It’s mid-May and we are in the throes of graduation season, primarily celebrating the final step toward receiving a high school or college diploma. The earliest institution in Frederick’s rich educational history was Frederick College, once located on the corner of Counsel (Council) and Record streets in the Court Square neighborhood of downtown Frederick. It played a pivotal role as a model for the nation’s early educational facilities. The school represented both a college and high school, as few people would ascertain this higher level of learning at the time of its founding in the late 1700s. The school's first principal is buried here in Mount Olivet, along several other former administrators and teachers. His name is Samuel Knox
With its publication in 1910, T.J.C. Williams’ History of Frederick County chronicled the background of this school, affectionately referred to as “the old Academy” by former students and townspeople alike.
“As early as 1763, when this territory was largely wilderness, the (Maryland General) Assembly granted a charter to the Frederick County School and College. Thomas Cresap, Thomas Beatty, Nathan Magruder. Capt. Joseph Chapline, John Darnall, Colonel Samuel Beall and Rev. Thomas Bacon were named as the first Board of Visitors. Strenuous times followed in an effort to realize practically the good sought in the establishment of this pioneer institution. The years of the Revolutionary War put an effective stop to much effort in this direction, and it was not until 1796 that appreciable headway was made, when, partly through the aid of a lottery (a recognized means in those days), the public-spirited generosity of the community was rewarded by seeing erected the first building which is still used as the College.
In 1797 a grant was made by the Assembly, and the School was opened with Samuel Knox, a Presbyterian minister, as its first Principal. It is interesting to note in this connection that it was from Dr. Knox that Thomas Jefferson got his scheme and plans for the University of Virginia. As the years went by the School prospered under the unremitting vigilance and fostering care of the Visitors, who invariably were our leading citizens, and who thought no attention and effort were too big a price to pay for the fostering of this School, which was to be a blessing to our boys
The records of the early hours of work (as early as 6 A. M. in the Summer months) with the three sessions a day, the almost continuous course from the last of August to the last of July, the daily exhortation to right living and the hour of prayer would make many of our boys of today glad that they did not live in those times, and yet some of the strongest men in the State and Nation came from the walls of the old Academy equipped for life's battles as many of our day are not. Duels were fought and punishment inflicted in the early years of the last century, and the boys took what came to them like men.
A fact not generally known is that in 1824, a place on the faculty was sought by a young man from New Hampshire, who was on his way to Ohio; he failed to secure the desired position and continued on his way West and years afterward came East and became known to the Nation in many capacities as Salmon P. Chase.
(NOTE: Chase (1808-1873) was a U.S. politician and jurist who served as the sixth Chief Justice of the United States. He also served as the 23rd Governor of Ohio, represented Ohio in the United States Senate, and served as the 25th United States Secretary of the Treasury.)
In 1830 a Collegiate charter was granted by the Assembly, and under it ever since good work has been done. Eight scholars are educated by the College absolutely without charge and ministers and missionaries, physicians and lawyers, merchants and farmers have here secured at no cost to them, the education and training that gave them their place in the world. During the Civil War, the buildings were used, as were most of our churches, for a hospital after the battle of Antietam.
For years Jesse Stapleton Bonsall was Principal, and was known probably to more students than any one teacher that filled that position. Severe, stern, unsparing of self, devoted to his work, the very soul of a high honor, he instilled into his boys the very essence of his life, and by his life and teaching imbued them with the spirit of the School as set forth in its motto: “Non scholae sed vitae; vitae utrique,”—Not for school but for life, both lives.
To call a roster of the boys trained here would read like a census list of this place, and the surrounding country, and would include the names of many long since scattered to the uttermost parts of the United States. The old institution, a pioneer in 1797, a vigorous factor for sound education and morality for more than one hundred years, a blessing and a pride to our community, still wears its venerable smile as it hears of the well-doing of its children, and listen with concern as they come back to tell of the buffetings they have received from the hard, material world. Frederick with its rich historic heritage of great men and stirring events, serenely resting amid the rush and clamor of present day strenuous endeavor, is a fit setting for this old School, grown hoary with the accumulated memories of more than three generations of men.
Frederick College would be supplanted by Boys’ High School as the area’s top place for education in the early years of the 20th century. In 1916, the old Academy structure became the new home of the Frederick County Free Library which had opened in 1914 and moved in here in 1916. The library would operate at this location for the next 23 years before donating its collection to the town’s new C. Burr Artz Library which opened in 1938. In building the new library, the Academy building would be razed in 1936.
Rev. Samuel Knox
Samuel Knox was born in the year 1756 in County Armagh, Ireland. Apparently, he was from a poor Scotch-Irish Presbyterian family and little else is known about his childhood. He married Grace Gilman in Dublin in 1774. The couple were the parents of four daughters.
The Knox family arrived in Maryland by 1786 and was known to be living in Bladensburg. Here, he taught at a grammar school from 1788-1789. Knox returned to Europe in 1789, and received a Master of Arts from the University of Glasgow in 1792. While there he received Greek and Latin scholarships. After the Presbytery of Belfast licensed him for the ministry, he returned to the United States and was assigned by the Baltimore Presbytery to the Bladensburg pastorate (1795–1797).
In 1796, the American Philosophical Society held a contest to design the best system of education for the United States. Samuel Knox entered, proposing a system of national instruction particularly designed for this “wide extent of territory, inhabited by citizens blending together almost all the various manners and customs of every country in Europe.” Providing elementary education for both girls and boys, uniform training and salaries for teachers, standard textbooks produced by a national university press, with a college in every state each charging the same fees and tuition, and at “the fountain head of science” a national university, Knox’s ambitious plan won second prize.
Rev. Knox performed the dual duties associated with rural Presbyterian ministers of the time. He was a schoolteacher and a “supply pastor,” charged with the religious congregation in Frederick, which he served from 1797–1803. Old papers are full of wedding announcements performed by the Irish clergyman.
At first, Knox was a heralded figure in Frederick. His reputation preceded him. He was accomplished as a writer of not only award-winning essays and published works. In addition to his religious and educational duties, Knox engaged in the political debates of the day, writing pamphlets in 1798 on English Separatist theologian Joseph Priestley’s “avowed Religious Principles.” In 1800, Knox wrote A Vindication of the Religion of Mr. Jefferson and a Statement of his Services in the Cause of Religious Liberty. Herein, Knox approved of Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom.
Speaking of founding fathers, Knox exchanged correspondences with other men of mark including our George Washington. The following is a letter penned by Knox to President Washington in October 1798.
Being About to publish, by subscription an Essay on the best Method of Introducing an Uniform System of Education adapted to the United States, I Beg leave to solicit the favour of your permission to prefix to it an Introductory address to you.
Though I own this Request is dictated by a share of vanity in presuming to be ambitious of so high a recommendatory sanction to my Essay; yet I truly declare that, what has chiefly prompted me thereto arises from a desire to express, on a Subject of that Nature, How much I Consider the Cause of Education indebted to your patronage through the whole of your publick Character.
The Essay I am about to publish, obtain’d the premium offer’d by the Philosophical Society of Philadelphia, on that subject, together with one written by a Mr Smith of that place. The Society passed a Resolution to publish them; but were disappointed by the Printer who had Undertaken that Business.
On being inform’d of this by their Secretary, And that the publication would be, on this Account, long retarded, by the advice of some friends I was induc’d to publish it, by subscription, in this State—from the view of its, probably, having some effect in turning the attention of our State-Legislature to that Subject. From this view I have Received the Manuscript from the Secretary of the Phil[adelph]ia Philosophical Society; And shall proceed to publish [as] soon as I Can ascertain whether I am to Have the Honour of dedicating or addressing it to you.
Two or three weeks since I was at Alexandria, designing to have personally waited on you; And if necessary to have given you some view of the Essay—Doctor Steuart near that place who has long known me, promised doing me the favour of introducing me to you; But learning that the State of your Health, at that time, forbade any such trouble, I flatter’d myself that this mode of application might be equally as proper—especially, as I have had the pleasure of seeing it announc’d to the Publick that your Health is again perfectly restor’d.
I Have Spent more than twenty years of my Life in the Education of youth. A considerable part of that time I Resided at Bladensburgh in this State—and remember having once had the Honour of being Introduc’d to you by Coll Fitzgerald of Alexandria—at a publick Examination of the youth in that Academy. Since that time I Study’d four years at one of the most celebrated Universities in Britain—and recd a Master of Art’s Degree, from the view of being Useful to Myself; this Country in particular; and Society in general—in the line of my profession as a Teacher of Youth—and a Minister of the Gospel. On my return to this Country I was offer’d the Charge of the Alexandria-Academy by its Visitors or Trustees with a Salary of 200 pounds Currency per Annum. But having a family to Support, I did not Consider their terms sufficiently liberal; or promising me a sufficient Compensation for the preparatory expence I Had been at in qualifying Myself for the Business.
I take the Liberty of Mentioning these circumstances merely from the view of informing you that in presuming to Solicit the Sanction of your Name to my Publication; and in venturing to lay My thoughts before an enlighten’d Publick on so important a Subject, It has not been without long experience in, as well as mature attention to the most improved Methods of publick Education.
Joining in the general tribute of sincere Congratulation; and thanks to Divine Providence for the restoration of your Health, I am, Sir, your Most devoted Obedt Hble Servt,
(Source: National Archives’ Founders Online website - www.founders/archives.gov)
Upon Washington’s death in December, 1799, Knox was held in esteem here locally along with others like Thomas Johnson, Jr., a longtime friend of our first president. In March, Knox and his students from the academy would take part in a memorial funeral procession for George Washington through the streets of town and culminating at Frederick’s Presbyterian Church, once located at the southwest corner of North Bentz Street and Dill Avenue. Knox would deliver the funeral oration.
In late May, 1800, Knox would have the distinct honor of delivering a sermon for a church service with our second president of the United States—John Adams. Adams was traveling through Frederick County and stayed the night. Rev. Knox home church structure being too small, services were conducted in the more spacious Lutheran church in town here.
Rev. Knox was no stranger to speaking his mind and ruffling feathers. Late in 1802, Knox wrote an open letter to the 16 trustees of the Frederick Town Academy lamenting the fact that none of them had attended the December 23rd examination at the school. He went on to give the full results of the exams and attributed the absence of many trustees to political party spirit. In this letter that was published in the Dec 31st edition of Bartgis’s Republican Gazette, Rev. Knox also gave himself a big pat on the back by including a December 14th letter from the faculty of the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University) affirming that the performance of Knox’s former students who had enrolled at the college was “creditable to themselves and honorable to their instructor.”
It comes as no surprise that Samuel Knox’ days in Frederick would be numbered. He would resign in the late summer of 1803 and left town, holding an auction of his household items, including servants, in late September. He and his wife had been living in a house on Counsel Street that adjoined the school.
Knox would move on from Frederick to a place called Soldier’s Delight Hundred, near present day Owings Mills in Baltimore County as the principal of a private academy which would merge with Baltimore College. This school would apparently merge with another academy and become Baltimore College.
Rev. Knox had established a firm reputation of one of the country’s top academics. He had a correspondence with Thomas Jefferson’s proposed system of education for the state Virginia. Knox had proposed a similar system for Maryland, with the same lack of success that Jefferson had across the Potomac River. However, Jefferson may have been influenced by Knox’ essays when he designed the University of Virginia in 1816. One year later, the Frederick Academy’s former principal was offered a professorship in languages and belles lettres at the University of Virginia, but the plans fell through. Knox would stay at Baltimore College until 1819.
In personal life, Rev. Knox’s wife, Grace, died in Baltimore in November, 1812. Ten years later, the feisty minister married a woman with a biblical name in Zeruiah McCleery. Zeruiah, whose name crudely translates to “pain,” was the daughter of Henry and Martha McCleery. Mr. McCleery and Zeruiah’s brother, Andrew, were accomplished architects with lasting connections to noted Frederick structures such as the second Frederick County courthouse, the second All Saints Church building on N. Court Street, and the Ross and Mathias mansions on Counsel (Council) Street. Knox and Miss McCleery were married on April 17th, 1822—the good reverend was 66 at the time and she was 39. Rev. Knox and Zeruiah would have no children.
Perhaps the former Miss McCleery’s influence brought back to her hometown as Knox would return to Frederick and Frederick College in 1823.
Rev. Knox continued his publication work and that with the church as well. However, his stay at Frederick College would be short as he was fired in 1827.
Unfortunately, his demise here in western Maryland came because of a dispute with the trustees over retention of the Lancastrian method of instruction, which he had been utilizing. The Lancastrian, or "Lancasterian," system was devised by Joseph Lancaster (1778-1838) and has also been called the monitorial method in which more advanced students taught less advanced ones, enabling a small number of adult masters to educate large numbers of students at low cost in basic and often advanced skills. From about 1798 to 1830 it was highly influential, but would be displaced by the "modern" system of grouping students into age groups taught using the lecture method, led by such educators as Horace Mann, and later inspired by the assembly-line methods of Frederick Taylor, although Lancaster's methods continue to be used and rediscovered today.
History summarizes Samuel Knox as a dedicated reformer with visionary plans for America’s future, however his downfall lay in the fact that he was also a despotic teacher and unable to bring his grandest schemes to fruition. Ideas of his, such as standardized textbooks, are things that are still with us today.
Knox made final waves in early 1828 when he memorialized his trials by submitting to the state legislature an account of the treatment he received from the school's board of trustees with reference to his termination as principal.
Knox retired in 1827 and busied himself with local activities such as leadership given to the Frederick County Sunday School Union. In trying to find a retirement home, my assistant Marilyn found that Mrs. Knox bought a property formerly owned by her father and today numbered as 29 East Second Street. Rev. Knox lived in Frederick until his death on August 31st, 1832. He was originally buried in Frederick’s Presbyterian burial ground once located at the southwest corner of N. Bentz Street and Dill Avenue. His wife, Zeruiah died in 1839 and was placed by his side.
In September, 1863, both Rev. Samuel and Zeruiah Knox would be re-interred to Mount Olivet in the McCleery family lot, number 374 within Area H.
For your reading pleasure, the following letter was written by Rev. Samuel Knox to Thomas Jefferson in November, 1818 while the former was still in the employ of Baltimore College.
Baltre College Novr 30th 1818.
A gentleman of this city, and friend of mine, in passing, some time since, thro’ Virginia, and Near to your Seat, Informed me that he fell in with your Nephew Mr Carr, who kindly enquir’d after me—And also Inform’d him that he had Recently heard you expressing a wish, that if I was not otherwise engag’d, some place Suited to me, might be found in your intended University. Owing chiefly to that casual circumstance, as Related to me, and the idea also, that I shall soon be disengag’d I have presum’d on the Liberty of writing to you on that Subject.
Ever since the popular ferment, previous to your Presidential Election, I have been the victim of Party Persecution. At an Annual Meeting of the general Assembly of the church to which I Belong, at Winchester in Virginia, in the month of May preceding your Election, I happen’d to be a Delegate from the Presbytery of Baltimore. In the Course of that Session it was Render’d manifest to several members from Pennsylvania—And from Virginia, of the same principles with myself, that thro’ the Influence of Jedadiah Morse, Near to Boston—and a few other influential men, then at the Assembly—it’s Sitting there, that year—Connected with some matters, then under discussion, was intended to prejudice the Southern Members, who Attended, against your Election. This, I Set myself Against with all the energies in my power And for which, however humble or limited the sphere of that power, or any personal Influence I possess’d, I was not soon to be forgiven.
On the same Acct a hostile spirit was taken up Against me by the Trustees of Fredericktown Academy, at that time Under my Direction. The Messrs Potts—And other highly Fedl Gentlemen of that place Remov’d their Sons And plac’d them at Princeton college—Assigning as their Motive that they had been improperly Instructed by me. To counteract a procedure so groundless and malignant—I was forc’d to Send on an Address to the Faculty of Princeton college, Requesting, in the most earnest manner, an examination of the Youth from Fredericktown—And the favour of a certificate of the manner in which They had acquitted themselves on that Examination, on being admitted to their college. The Result was very flattering to me—I Receiv’d a certificate, which the circumstances mentioned Induc’d me to publish, “that no Youths had ever Entered that college, who Done more credit to themselves, or to their Instructor.”
That, however, and the Desire of being disconnected from such Patrons of public Education—and parents who could so treat the Instructor of their Sons, Soon afterwards Induced me to Resign the charge of that Institution, at which I had previously a greater Number of students from the different counties in Maryland—and some from the adjacent counties in Virginia than was at that time, in the State college at Annapolis, tho’ Endow’d with an Annuity of Seventeen Hundred pounds—And Conducted by a Faculty of considerable Reputation as to literary Acquirements.
After some disappointments, I was Induc’d to Settle in this City. Several friends Had Influenc’d me to Believe that I would Her[e] Breathe, in an Atmosphere, more Congenial with my principles and habits of thinking, than that which I had last experienc’d. At that time, a Number of the Respectable citizens of this place Had obtain’d from the Legislature of Maryland a charter for a college, on liberal principles; but without any Endowment, but such as might be Rais’d by a Lottery; or Voluntary Donations. The first Principal of this New Establishment was a Mr James Priestley—Now, I Believe, of Cumberland college, State of Tennesee. He Relinquish’d Baltre college on Acct of a Differenc[e] with it’s Trustees, Respecting the quantum of his Emolument. The College was Suspended for some time—And afterwards Resum’d Under my Direction. The tide of Party-Spirit, however, still Ran high against me—Not a Fedl Gentleman would put a Son under my tuition. The college of St Mary, in this place, was much more Congenial with their principles—And the Jesuitical Spirit of which, I had first the Honour of developing to the public.
At present, tho’ Baltre College, without funds or Endowment, Still maintains an Existence—And tho’ many Youths of Considerable promise of Usefulness to their country Have here finish’d their Course of Education—And tho’ a few Patrons also particularly William Pinkney Esqre Late Envoy to Russia, still afford Us all their Countenance; Yet, the Institution is unable to Support itself, Against such discouragement, in any proper Consistency with it’s designation as a College.
Indeed I Regret much, Having it to Say, that the Gentlemen of Any Influence, in this place, from whom I had Reason to expect most—Have Never Been liberal as to the patronage of public Education. Several of them think it, on a liberal scale, an Obstruction to Mercantile Success. Previous to the late war when those principles, for a time, Had the Ascendency in this State, Which I had, without Regard to persons or parties, always Considered, as most salutary to civil and Religious Liberty; I hoped to Obtain some Aid to our college from the Genl Assembly of the State—But the application was in Vain—The State Treasury, it was Said, could afford Nothing to colleges. Indeed, Several of the Fedl Gentlemen, then at Annapolis, frankly told me that Nothing would be Done for public Education, while that Party, to which I had attach’d myself, was in Power.
Since that time, a Sectarian Spirit, still more Injurious to Liberal Education, has Arisen in Baltimore. The Catholics have their favourite Seminary. The Episcopalians theirs’—And the Methodists, the most Numerous of any, at last Session of Assembly, obtain’d a charter, for their Ashbury college, for which they Manifest their Usual Zeal and Exertion.
In addition to all these obstructions to the Success of Baltre College, I was so Unhappy as to have a serious Difference with one of our Trustees, a Revd Gentleman of this city, on Account of Some Discipline to which his Son was Subjected at college. His Conduct to me, was most malignant and Unwarrantable, Tho’ a countryman of my Own, Himself too a persecuted man, Yet Neither the Sacred Investiture he Bore, Nor Any other motive that ought to Have Influenc’d his professional Example and character, Restrain’d him from a conduct toward me and my professional Standing and Interest, as unjust, and as malevolent, as Any Individual ever Resorted to, or adopted against another.
I could not Justify myself in intruding on your attention, an Occurrence so disagreeable, Only that I have heard that man vainly Boast of the Interest he had in your Esteem—as also in that of Mr & Mrs Madison—And Judging from other circumstances in his conduct to me, equally as improbable, Did not know but the Breath of his malignity might, on some Occasion, such as this, Extend itself even to You
A Consciousness of Integrity; And also an Open and impartial And Unanimous Decision of the matter at Issue, between us, by the Board of Trustees, in my favour, Have fully Convinc’d the Public, where it was known, of the ground of that Revd Gentleman’s Malignity—And that he Injur’d himself more by it, than he Did the Victim whom he so wantonly and perseveringly Sought to Overwhelm.
Having thus, I fear disagreeably, Introduc’d myself—The only apology I can make for it is, That I Deem’d it necessary for your Information, in Judging Correctly of the following Overture, which I now take the Liberty, very Respectfully, to Submit.
Having Observ’d in our public papers, that you Are particularly and Zealously Engag’d in founding an University in your Vicinity for the State of Virginia—And Judging that you will, consequently, Have to Employ a Variety of Professors or Instructors, to Supply the Different Departments in that Institution, I have thought that it might be possible that I would Succeed in Obtaining, thro’ You, Some place in it, Suited to My qualifications; And where my Services Migh[t] find also a more extensive Sphere of Usefulness, than Under existing Circumstances, my present Situation affords.
Being a Widower—And my children, four Daughters, all Respectably and comfortably Settled in the world—And [m]ore independent, in that respect, than their father, my Views, I beg leave to Assure you, are not so much turn’d to Emolument—As to a sincere Desire of being more generally Useful to Society.
At the University of Glasgow, where I finishd my course of Education—and there obtain’d the highest Degree Conferr’d on a Student, I pass’d thro’ a course of Genl Science and Literature—But as well there, as in my professional practice since, Have been most conversant with the ‘Literæ humaniores,’ or classical Learning. In that Department, I think I could still Render essential Service to Any Seminary founded on an extensive Scale of Usefulness—And tho’ Principal of a college, where I now Reside, would have no objection to Serve as a member of any faculty, in a University, in Any Department I thought myself qualified to fill with credit And Usefulness. Though considerably Advanc’d in Life, I Bless God I continue to enjoy good Health, And a capacity for Industry And exertion—And the smallest Greek print I meet with, I can yet Read without Spectacles—Notwithstanding all this, However, I fear I shall Stand Condemn’d, as to Age—by the garrulous egotism of this Letter, if on no other Account.
In every Establishment, Such as that which I Suppos[e] You Now contemplate, much Depends on the talents, Zeal And Industry of the Faculty employ’d. Without these combin’d—It cannot Succeed. Without these, however liberally endowed It cannot be lastingly Useful. The greatest Characters for Scientific and literary attainment, Seldom make the best Instructors—And yet without Such characters, at least as part of the Faculty, No University Could be Reputable.
Much Depends, also, on proper Accommodations. I have Seen Some few of the best colleges And Academies in Europe—And Several also in this country—But I have Seen none as well Calculated for preserving good Order and Discipline As I think they might be. When the Building and Accommodations of that in which I now Instruct, was in a state of preparation, I endeavour’d, to Have them adapted to my Views—But Owing to some of the Obstructions, already mention’d, I found that a Building Committee, or even An Architect or carpenter, was Consider’d, by a Majority of our Board of Trustees, as knowing better what was adapted to these purposes than the Instructor of long Experience.
I Have now Submitted to you, with no little Reluctance, such circumstantial Information as I deem’d Necessary, for your being in possession of, Respecting any Individual, who should Aspire to the Honour of your countenance as a candidate for any Department in that laudable Establishment And Undertaking in which you Are Engag’d.
That it may please Divine Providence to Spare your Useful Life, to See its’ Advantages Realised by Society, is the Sincere prayer of your greatly Respectful And most Obedt Hble Servt
Wait a minute, did I miss Maryland oyster season? May is here already? What the heck happened to March and April?! It’s like they were here and gone in “the blink of an eye”—and this even with time seemingly on our hands while in self-quarantine with social distancing.
Ah yes, Maryland oyster season. Many of us missed it --as it officially ended on March 31st. Those in the know are well aware that May does not contain an “R.” Neither does June, July or August for that matter. Luckily, here in Maryland, “the seafood gods” offer us the crustacean consolation of steamed crabs to help us get by until September.
According to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources website:
“The oyster season runs from October 1 through March 31. Harvesting Methods: A person may catch oysters recreationally only by hand, rake, shaft tong, or diving with or without scuba equipment. Also a resident may not catch oysters recreationally while on the boat of someone who is catching oysters commercially."
As is true today, oysters are only to be eaten in months with an “R.” This idea is an ancient one, dating back to sixteenth and seventeenth-century England. While some think it is just a superstition, there are actually good reasons for it, grounded in the fact that oysters spoil much more readily in warm weather. Furthermore, oysters are thin and have a less desirable texture and flavor during the summer, the period when they spawn.
Oh well, Maryland oyster season has officially ended, but there are still some ways to get them as they are mostly farm raised this day, and plenty of frozen specimen are on, or in, ice as we speak! I usually revel in getting my fill as I enjoy frying up my own oysters on holidays, other special occasions, and for an occasional football tailgate. In addition, I have some friends that have the same adoration for oysters—a love borne out of annual treks made to Tilghman Island for all-you-can-eat oyster buffets in earlier, more care-free days before family obligations curtailed the practice.
I love both oysters and Tilghman Island, so much so, that I gave the place name to a former dog of mine. I chose the moniker "Tilghman" over naming him “Oyster," as that would have been a weird name for a canine.
For those not familiar with Tilghman Island, Maryland, it is a small town located at the end of Talbot County’s Bay Hundred peninsula on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay. Wedged between the Bay and the Choptank River, Tilghman Island is less than three miles long and a mile wide. It is named for an old Maryland family.
Although Tilghman Island has seen 13,000 years of human habitation, many families came here after the American Civil War, attracted by the booming oyster industry and the opportunities it presented— ranging from dredging/tonging the oysters to packing/shipping the animals to nearby market centers. Tilghman Island became Maryland’s pre-eminent watermen’s community and home to the famed skipjack fleet.
The Chesapeake is justifiably famous for its oysters. Indeed, one translation of the word Chesapeake from the Algonquian Indian language is “Great Shellfish Bay.” This was certainly the case when the first Europeans arrived to establish the colony in the 1600s. These numbers were the result of virtually ideal conditions for oysters in the Bay. It offered relatively shallow waters that were rich in nutrients and with generally firm bottom conditions. Forest-covered lands that bordered the rivers and creeks deterred erosion, which meant that little silt would cloud the waters and clog the gills of oysters. Ocean water from the Atlantic was diluted by fresh water flowing into the Chesapeake to produce the moderately salty water in which oysters thrive. Apparently, no serious diseases infected the shell beds. Finally, since the number of people living in the Chesapeake region for most of its existence was low, and since they had relatively simple technology for harvesting shellfish, oysters could grow and flourish without major disruption by humans.
There is little evidence of seafood marketing during the colonial era in newspapers. It was the 1800s that saw oysters viewed as something more than just a local Maryland delicacy and food resource. The rise of cities such as Baltimore, Norfolk, Washington, DC, and Richmond spurred more demand for seafood, and harvesting of oysters and fish began to increase.
In the 1830s and 1840s, several key events occurred that had a profound impact on both oysters and the Chesapeake Bay. One was the discovery of massive oyster reefs in the deep waters of Tangier Sound off Crisfield (MD). Another was the development of canning technology that made it possible to preserve oysters effectively. At the same time, the emergence of steam-powered ships and railroads meant that transportation became more dependable, and perishable seafood could be carried to distant markets. These innovations sparked commercial harvesting and the take of live oysters expanded rapidly. The boom began and later, so did “the oyster wars.”
As for Frederick, we are certainly not considered to be on the water as Carroll Creek and the Monocacy River don’t count. However, we are well-connected to Baltimore, and have always been a bustling transportation crossroads kind of town with ample access to “the bounty of the Bay,” so to speak.
In doing my usual research in vintage local newspapers, I often stumble across advertisements for purveyors of this particular bivalve mollusk. Here in Frederick, you could dine on these creatures in grand restaurants, blue-collar bars and at home thanks to carry-out retailers who provided “curb-side service” back in the day. There were actually hucksters who use to sell oysters out of a portable stand in the same manner of hot dog and pretzel vendors in big cities.
Long gone, I sought to “dredge-up” a few of those “brackish” oyster entrepreneurs of the 19th century, hoping of course to find some of them buried here in Mount Olivet Cemetery. Here are the results, however, I may warn you that I found plenty of pearls which extended a single story into three-parts herein contained. Bon appetit!
One of the earliest mentions found of an oyster establishment in Frederick was that of Frederick Getz, who advertised in the Republican Gazette newspaper of Frederick in 1823. Mr. Getz was born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania in March, 1781. He had recently re-located to Frederick from Baltimore, likely seeking the opportunity the inland town represented as a new market for the Chesapeake Bay delicacy.
According to ads, Frederick Getz opened a confectionary store in Frederick in 1823, and was residing with his wife, Mary, on East Patrick Street in the stone house formerly occupied by Dr. Bogen between the grocery stores of Stuart Gaither and Thomas Conner. Gaither's grocery store was on the south side of East Patrick, roughly where Jojo's Restaurant and Serendipity Market are now.
Little is known about Mr. Getz because his time here in town was brief. While in Baltimore, he had opened an oyster establishment in a landmark structure known as the Stone Tavern at the northeast corner of Bridge (today’s North Gay Street) and North Front streets in Baltimore in 1822. He advertised this as a place of entertainment featuring oyster suppers. Beforehand, Getz had a confectionery business in Charm City.
Frederick Getz' big plans for Frederick, the town that shared his name, were short-lived as he would suddenly pass--just one year after he arrived in town. Diarist Jacob Engelbrecht chronicled the event in his diary on Tuesday, September 14th, 1824:
“Died this forenoon in the 42nd year of his age, Mr. Frederick Getz (resident of this place about 2 years). In all probability he will be interred with Masonic honors as he belongs to that “Parish.” Buried German Reformed graveyard.”
Getz, along with over three hundred others, remains at the Old German Reformed burying ground, today better known today as Frederick’s Memorial Park, located at the corner of North Bentz and West Second streets. His name appears on a plaque on the east end of the park. His grave could be under one of several 20th century war monuments.
Alfred D. Bladen
In late September, 1823, advertisements began running in the local Frederick paper for the oyster establishment of one, Alfred D. Bladen. This was the same time that Mr. Getz opened his business in town. Bladen can be found living in Richmond, Virginia in the 1820 census. His foray into Frederick occurred in the winter and start of 1823 in which he apparently sold oysters. We next get a glimpse of him in May (of 1823)at which time he is advertising his services as an upholsterer and located in the old law office building on Court Street across from the Frederick County Court House. As a side note, this is not the small building that exists today, but one that existed slightly north of this site and likely served as an early office for Francis Scott Key as it had been used primarily by lawyers as such.
The following month, Jacob Engelbrecht reports that Bladen’s rental dwelling, also used as his residence, was involved in a fire. Apparently there was a high degree of gossip and hearsay attached to this unfortunate incident—enough indeed for Mr. Bladen to acknowledge his displeasure, complete with a stern warning to his critics.
The oyster house ad above states that he (Bladen) has found a new home on Patrick Street by the fall of 1823, and asks patrons to “consider his losses sustained in his late calamity.”
The next mention I could find of this man is in the Baltimore papers in May, 1826.
Alfred D. Bladen seems to have turned things around and eventually opened a new establishment in Washington, DC called the Eagle Tavern, and positioned near the capital, in 1828. He experienced nice success at first but was subsequently kicked out by his landlord for failure to keep up with his rent. Apparently, he would make another move to Norfolk. Virginia in spring, 1832. Tragedy struck the following September as he had two children die in the infamous cholera epidemic that hit our country.
Mr. Bladen, himself, would die in May, 1833 at the age of 39. I'm assuming that he was buried in Norfolk, but his gravesite may be unknown at this point.
The oyster cellar of William Saunders must have been one to behold. In addition to having oysters prepared anyway you'd like, you had the greatest beer selection in all of western Maryland at the time! The location in which Mr. Saunders would conduct business was smack dab on the National Pike and in the middle of Frederick's early hotel district. This exact location, on the northeast corner of West Patrick and Court streets, would be the scene of several oyster establishments in the decades to follow.
Upon finding the above advertisement, I immediately became curious as to the label of "oyster cellar" used by Mr. Saunders. I soon learned that establishments serving our "shellfish in question" went by various names, especially when paired with beer in a bar-like setting--case in point, oyster bars. Oysters were seen as a cheap food to accompany beer and liquor so you could also find both in oyster parlors, oyster saloons, or oyster cellars. These establishments were often located in the basement of establishments where keeping ice was easier. As the ad above declares, Saunders kept his "oyster cellar" under a tailor's shop at that time.
William Saunders was operating a bar of some sort here in town as early as 1822, this based on newspaper listings. He, himself, only had a five-year run as I would learn from Frederick diarist Jacob Engelbrecht who mentions Saunder's death in a brief entry made on October 18th, 1827.
"Died this day in the year of his age, Mr. William Saunders (oyster man) of this place a native of England."
I also learned from Engelbrecht that Saunders had a business associate who had "crossed the pond" with him to America. This was a man named Abraham Sherwood, a right hand man in running the oyster cellar in Frederick. Sherwood was a tailor from Kent County, England, and I'm thinking that he could have kept the business above ground during the day.
Mr. Sherwood died two years after Saunders in 1829. Both men were originally buried in the old All Saints Protestant Episcopal burying ground, once located atop the hill between East All Saints Street and Carroll Creek. They shared a headstone here that gave more information about each. It read:
"Cemented by Love (displaying a Masonic Compass and Square) William Saunders died Oct'r. 18th 1827, aged 41 years. Native of England." and "Abm. Sherwood died April 15, 1829, aged 42 years, Native of England."
I'm not going to read anything into the "cemented by love" expression, but I assume the two were very close, regardless.
In 1913, the bodies of these two gentlemen were moved to Mount Olivet. Saunders and Sherwood are buried in Mount Olivet's Area MM in lots purchased by the All Saints' Vestry in 1913 as part of a mass removal project of the church' s old burying ground. Saunders is recorded as being buried in Lot 52. As was customary with shabby looking grave markers, the headstone mentioned above is noted as being buried beneath ground here in the vicinity. Sherwood is within Area MM/Lot N-35, the mass grave which holds n 285 other bodies.
John G. Holmes
Another early spot in town for oysters doubled as an early election precinct location in 1831. This was the oyster house of John G. Holmes, of whom I have been able to find little except him living in Frederick at the time of the 1830 census. Perhaps Holmes picked up the former business of Getz, Bladen or Abraham Sherwood, but I have not made a definitive connection. He appears to have overcome some financial challenges a few years previously and was operating fine.
The interesting thing about the timing here is that the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad came to town that same year. As mentioned earlier, this surely provided a more dependable means to safely bring oysters in regularity to the people of town.
My assistant, Marilyn Veek, found a brief article from 1828 regarding John G. Holmes being jailed for being insolvent. I have included it to the right for your reading pleasure. On the bright side, Holmes was an "engine man" for the Washington Hose Company in 1829. We also found that the John G Holmes Oyster House would serve as a voting precinct for Frederick's Ward 5 in the Corporation election of 1831.
Thanks again to the Diary of Jacob Engelbrecht, we have an idea of what eventually became of Mr. Holmes, another oyster promoter who died far before his time:
Died last evening in the year of his age (38), Mr. John Glen Holmes, Shoemaker, son-in-law of the late Daniel Cassel. His death was rather sudden, having been struck on the neck by Harrison Knight in a dispute which took place in George Rice’s cellar (a Restarature kept by a Mr. Keach). His neck was broke and instantly died. Mr. Knight was not aware that he had killed him and left the cellar for home. He delivered himself to the Sheriff immediately thereafter, say several hours. Mr. H. was buried this evening at 6’o’clock on the Lutheran graveyard, east end of Church Street.
Sunday, July 29th, 1838
Engelbrecht mentions a second Lutheran burying ground in downtown Frederick. This was located on the southeast corner of today’s Everedy Square at the intersection of East Church Street extended and East Street. Most of these bodies were re-interred to Mount Olivet in the early 20th century.
I found that we have several members of the Holmes family here at the Mount, but not John G. Holmes. There is a possible son by the name of John Lewis Holmes (1824-1893). He and other Holmes relatives are in Mount Olivet’s Area P/Lot 110. I've even theorized that there is a remote chance that John G. Holmes is here without a stone, or there could have been a bit of record confusion upon the time he was brought in to our cemetery.
Not to be a downer, but these large-scale reburial operations always had good intentions of having "no one left behind"—but it was a difficult task, and some bodies didn't make the trip. I’m not saying that Mr. Holmes is residing under Talbot’s Department Store, but since he's not clearly visible in our cemetery records, there is a mathematical chance. That said, I was delighted to find Holmes’ killer, Mr. Knight, buried within Mount Olivet’s Area Q/Lot 96.
With the early demise of all five of our earliest known “oystermen of Frederick,” I began to think that there could have been some curse associated to their business staple, as it clearly can be seen that “the world was not their oyster.” I also started wondering how healthy oysters were for you back in the day. I'm sure it was merely coincidence that each of these men died before they were 44 years old. Regardless, Frederick was very progressive to have multiple oyster purveyors dating back to the 1820s.
By 1850, nearly every major town in North America had some sort of oyster bar in their vicinity. The oyster was well on its way to becoming arguably the most popular food of the 1800s. Following its earlier popularity in Great Britain, the celebrated mollusk was as American as apple pie. So the next time you want to honor your nation’s culinary past, why don’t you try serving this wonderful seafood. It was a common thread between old and young, rich and poor, black and white, and in the early 1860s, North and South!
During the Civil War era, I found a few wholesale and retail establishments advertised. These included men such as Jefferson Boteler, Ambrose Carson and George Freaner, buried here in Mount Olivet, and another named George Shaffner. I could find very little on each, probably because they seem to have been journeyman as opposed to locals for life. It also seems that some of these men tried a hand at living in Baltimore, perhaps in order to achieve a deeper connection to their trade. Perhaps this was a deadlier task than eating oysters daily?
A native of York, Pennsylvania, Ambrose Carson was a carpenter whose specialty was making chairs. His wife was from Baltimore and likely had a pipeline to oysters. Ambrose appears as an early supplier to Frederick in the wholesale/retail realm.
George Washington Tice Shaffner was the son of Peter and Ann Shaffner, who were re-buried in Mount Olivet after original interment at Evangelical Lutheran's burying ground off East Street. Shaffner's oyster house location, mentioned in the above ad, says that he was three doors above the Junior Fire Hall which had its original home on North Market Street to the immediate north of today's Brewer's Alley Restaurant. George Shaffner married Mary Exline in 1875 and bought a house on East Patrick Street in 1877, but seems to disappear from the record, at least locally.
It's interesting to note the former occupations of some of these oyster purveyors. I often see confectioner, which I always thought was something that related to a person whose occupation is making or selling candy and other sweets. I guess there is a close relationship to cakes, doughnuts and fried oysters, (sometimes called oyster fritters) than I had originally thought. Vincent Freaner is an example of someone that made the leap. Freaner's location was near Frederick's Square Corner intersection of Market and Patrick streets, just one door north of the old Frederick County National Bank building.
"Frederick's Oystermen" Part II
I would venture to say that one of the most colorful of "oyster salesmen" during the period of the 1850s, 1860s and 1870s was Jacob Haller, Jr. —a former veteran of the War of 1812. From mentions I have read of this man, his oyster business at least dates back to the year 1860 where the census lists "the old defender of Fort McHenry and Baltimore" as a restaurant keeper.
Jacob Haller, Jr. was born on June 29th, 1795 to Jacob and Anna Maria (Hockwerdter) Haller. He grew up in south Frederick and served in the 1st Regiment, Maryland Militia under Capt. Nicholas Turbutt from July 23rd, 1814 to January 10th, 1815 during the War of 1812.
Haller was twice married, the father of ten, and began his working career as a saddle-maker. Haller was very active with the fire community and also dabbled a bit in politics, elected as a member of the town's Common Council in 1841. In 1850, he can be found living in Baltimore but returned home somewhere within the decade, likely to begin his retirement. For one reason or another, he decided to open up a bar/restaurant on South Market Street near its intersection with All Saints Street.
Jacob Haller's Tavern, also known as Haller House, was in operation until the early 1870s. The location consisted of current day properties 68, 70 and 72 on the east side of the street. Mr. Haller was a loyal member of Frederick's Washington Hose Fire Company, and later United Fire Company whose "Swamp Hall" was practically across the street. I’m sure he made a killing off his fire company buddies who I assume loved nothing more than beer and oysters.
Jacob Haller, Jr. died on August 14, 1873 at the age of 79. His property would be auctioned off at the City Hotel shortly thereafter. Phillip Haller obtained ownership of the Haller property in September 1874. Philip appears to have run the establishment for a few years before selling it in 1878.
Jacob’s son, Charles Edward Haller (1847-1907) would graduate into the oyster business as well in the early 1870s. Born November 11th, 1847, Charlie Haller had taken over the main responsibilities of his father a few years before the elder Haller's death. A printer by trade, "Buck" Haller successfully made the transition to restaurant keeper. He gave the old place a makeover and certainly left a lasting impression on the city as having the most industrious, progressive and successful bivalve run of anyone.
Charles E. Haller would move on from the Haller House location and join Isaac Landauer in operating an oyster eatery named "the Gem" on West Patrick Street. This place, once the site of Turbott's Tavern, run by his father's old military commander, was made a new addition to the City Hotel, and located near the intersection with Court Street. This was almost the same locale of the oyster bar run by William Saunders and Abraham Sherwood some fifty years earlier. After a year and a half, Haller would serve as sole proprietor.
In 1875, "Buck" Haller made another move of two blocks to another location. He would set up shop in the basement of the Bentz Building on the northwest corner of Church and Market streets. Today, this location is home to the popular Tasting Room restaurant. Haller's youth, drive, charisma and marketing brilliance, exhibited by delivering free samples to the newspaper staffs of town, set him apart from his competitors.
After a couple years, young Charlie Haller was on the move again, this time choosing a a location closer to his roots on South Market Street. The destination was on the north side of Carroll Creek, on the west side of Market. Today's La Paz restaurant's patio marks the approximate location.
A former employee, John F. A. Fox had tried giving this location a go, likely bankrolled by Mr. Haller himself, but surrendered it to his former employer and selling a partnership to his own brother-in-law in an effort to go to work selling oysters for a man named Washington P. Marman.
Mr. Haller would give this saloon a makeover as well, attracting a higher brow clientele then those it had been dredging up for years. He renamed the establishment the “Green House Restaurant." I found that Mr. Haller did some novel advertising in the local papers, and even placed ads in Thurmont’s Catoctin Clarion to attract north county patrons.
The 1887 Sanborn Insurance Map shows clearly the location of the saloon on S. Market at Carroll Creek, operated by C. E. Haller as "the Green House Restaurant."
Haller would run The Green House, the premiere place for oysters and seafood in town, until 1893, when he decided to sell it. He would set up shop again on East Patrick Street and then would attempt to retire later in the decade. This would be short-lived as he would be hired by a former employee named Charles N. Hauer to be the manager of the Buffalo Hotel's restaurant in 1898. Ironically, The Buffalo been the site of the earlier Gem Restaurant he oversaw some 25 years earlier. Haller helped Hauer on his way, and stepping aside after a year to lead a quieter life for health reasons.
Mr. Haller died in 1907, and would be buried in Area C/Lot 94. His extensive obituary tells the story of a very successful businessman in various endeavors in addition to oysters. In my opinion, he should hold the title of "Oyster King" of Frederick City.
Frederick's Oystermen Part III
By the late 1880s, an "oyster craze" had swept the United States, and oyster bars were prominent gathering places in Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Denver, Louisville, New York City, and St. Louis. An 1881 U.S. government fisheries study counted 379 oyster houses in the Philadelphia city directory alone, a figure explicitly not including oyster consumption at hotels or other saloons. In 1892, the Pittsburgh Dispatch estimated the annual consumption (in terms of individual oysters) for the city of London at one billion, and the United States as a whole at twelve billion oysters.
The 1880s seems to have been "the high water mark" of competing “oystermen” in business here in Frederick. A prime example is the clipping above featuring several oyster-related advertisements found in the January 14th, 1884 edition of the Frederick News. As a matter of fact, if you were one of the "shuckin' lucky ones," you could have found oysters and beer in the streets of Frederick on one glorious day that same year.
Fox & Marman
John Frederick Augustus Fox was born on September 29th, 1852. His father, a successful tinsmith, was born in Stadthagen, Germany, and came to this country in 1841, where he settled in Middletown. Interestingly, tinsmiths played a major role in the growing commercialization and consumption of oysters through their ability to make storage cans. Perhaps young John was brought into the industry through this avenue?
Whatever the case, John F. A. Fox worked as clerk under Charles E. Haller at the "Gem Restaurant" dating back to 1871. He was only 19 years-old at the time. Fox followed Mr. Haller to various other locations and eventually became a partner in The Green House location along Carroll Creek. Around 1883, for one reason or another, Fox’s brother-in-law (Henry Dertzbaugh) bought out his interest in the firm.
John F. A. Fox went to work for Washington Marmon as a salaried clerk. Interestingly, his name would be used as a member of the firm--Marmon & Fox operated on South Market Street.
John F. A. Fox was married, but had no children. He was a member of the Independent Fire Company. Sadly, in January, 1884, just weeks after announcing a reopening of the business, John F. A. fox died at the age of 31. He was buried in Mount Olivet’s Area Q/Lot 53.
Washington P. Marman conducted the oyster business until the time of his own death (February 25, 1892). This was just over eight years after that of Fox. Born September 15th, 1823, Mr. Marman had an interesting background that included being a Union soldier in the Civil War, along with working on Frederick's earliest police force. He had previous experience in the hospitality trade as a one-time owner of the Black Horse Tavern that once graced the bend on West Patrick Street. He is buried in Mount Olivet's Area R/Lot 71.
For a guy who earlier in life was called upon to help quell John Brown's ill-fated insurrection attempt at Harpers Ferry in 1859, keeping control of rowdy patrons within an oyster saloon was likely not much of a challenge. The native Pennsylvanian was born in 1837 and living here in Frederick by the 1850s.
Lewis Hager was a member of the Independent Riflemen (a fire company which doubled as a local militia group) and was among the first responders on the scene in Harpers Ferry, 25 years before he opened his business at a location on Court Street which was formerly operated by a J. William Brubaker since 1872.
Mr. Brubaker would relocate to Columbia, Pennsylvania (between York and Lancaster) in 1885, opening the door for the cagey former militiaman, who was cursed with a rival town's name. Hager set up shop at #12 Court Street in the basement of Black's Hotel.
Mr. Hager's parents were natives of Germany and the he can be found living in Frederick in the 1860 census. He was likely born in Perry County, Pennsylvania, and came to Frederick to live with his uncle after his biological father died in 1852. His birth mother seems to have died around 1839.
Hager is listed as a carpenter, the profession of his stepfather/uncle Henry Hager, in the 1870 and 1880 census records. Lewis had married the former Mary C. Burck in 1862, and the couple owned two properties in the vicinity of the intersection of West South and Burck streets. He bought one property in 1875 from his mother-in-law, Christiana Burck, who can be found living with he and his wife in the above-mentioned census records. The Hagers also had a daughter named Rachel.
It appears that Mrs. Hager assisted her husband as dining room manager. I could not find out why they chose to use the verbiage "re-opened" in the 1886 advertisement above? Perhaps they closed shop temporarily for personal reasons, or had a brief closing based on the oyster season, although I found nothing in newspaper searches of 1885.
In 1890, the Hager's restaurant was among three dining establishments mentioned in a commercial directory feature in the Frederick News. The others included the previously mentioned Charles E. Haller, and a Mr. Job. K. Sheppard.
Mr. Sheppard was a staple in the neighborhood, and would locate right next door in the summer of 1885 or so it appears in the papers. Interestingly, this is a period when the Hagers stopped advertising. Perhaps there was a business handoff for a while? I think that the property the Hagers were leasing was subdivided by ownership to accommodate both entities.
Job K. Sheppard
I mentioned Job Kelsy Sheppard earlier in conjunction with Lewis and Mary Hager. He was born on April 14th, 1838 in New Jersey and came to Frederick as a shoemaker, at least according to the 1860 census. He was a member of the Junior Fire Company at this time and served in the Junior Defenders militia company. From a newspaper article of that time, he was praised as the company's best marksman. This came in handy as he would serve in the ensuing Civil War.
In 1870, Sheppard was working as a hotel clerk for Mr. Frank B. Carlin who took over operation of the former Dill House at the corner of West Church and Court streets. Job came into the "oyster business" from another angle as he was listed as a brewer according to the 1880 census.
Mr. Sheppard seems to have begun operation of his own dining establishment in 1885. I have a strange feeling that he may have been bankrolled by his old boss, Frank B. Carlin, who also happened to be married to his sister, Ann (nee Sheppard). Maybe Mr. Carlin could have owned the Court Street properties next to his hotel and livery stables and simply set-up Sheppard in an effort to compete with the Hagers?--
as his hotel guests were going somewhere to eat, and the eateries on Court Street were the closest choices.
I also found that Mr. Sheppard was among the first restaurateurs in town to carry a familiar beer that is still with us today.
In 1888, Job was given the "job" as manager of The European House, the elegant dining hall associated with the City Hotel. This had been run under the name of "The Gem" by Charles E. Haller a decade earlier. I'm thinking the selection of Job K. Sheppard came due to the fact that Mr. Carlin took ownership of the City Hotel at this time, and brought his faithful brother-in-law with him.
Meanwhile, Sheppard still continued to run his popular restaurant around the corner on Court Street. Life marched on for Job Sheppard and almost every article I read about him talks about how nice and personable he was. He also seems to have possessed a great sense of humor and did some things to make himself stand out as the manager of what would become known as the finest dining location in town.
Sheppard was aided by his right-hand man and barkeeper, Theodore Knodle. In looking for info on Knodle, I found him living on West Patrick Street in the 1880 census and working as a barkeep. He seemed to be the Yogi Berra of his day in regard to seafood talk, as he was regularly quoted in the Frederick News.
Everything was going fine for this awesome duo until the fateful night of August 22nd, 1896.
Charles N. Hauer
The enormous demand for oysters was not sustainable.The beds of the Chesapeake Bay, which supplied much of the American Midwest, were becoming rapidly depleted by the early 1890s. Increasing restrictions on oyster seasons and methods in the late 19th-century lead to the rise of oyster pirates, culminating in the Oyster Wars of the Chesapeake Bay that pitted poachers against armed law enforcement authorities of Virginia and Maryland (dubbed the "oyster navy").
In 1883, an understudy of Charles E. Haller, named Charles N. Hauer, took charge of the Haller Dining Rooms establishment at Church and Market when his boss relocated to the Green House a few blocks to the south.
This was quite an opportunity for Hauer, a distant relative of Frederick's famed heroine, Barbara (Hauer) Fritchie. Just a few years prior he found himself a cigar maker, along with his brother, Fritchie Hauer. Their father was a cigar-maker.
Charles Nicholas Haller was born October 5th, 1859, the son of George N. and Lucretia (Poole) Hauer. He was one of nine children and spent most of his life living on South Market Street.
He got the chance to learn the business from a great teacher, Charles E. Haller. Now at the helm, he took the opportunity to re-use the name of "Gem Restaurant" for the restaurant on the corner of Church and Market streets.
Charles continued to run The Gem for years at this locale. He married Clara Filby in 1887, but the couple had no children. Charles would really experience a strange degree of fame in the form of a medical testimonial he would give for Hood's Sarsaparilla in the year 1892. His face would appear in newspapers coast to coast. The following ad appeared in the March 2nd edition of the Philadelphia Times.
Perhaps if one had bad blood, the tempting intake of raw oysters and alcohol, readily available at work, may not have been the best career choice. But what do I know?
Charles would eventually leave the Gem to take a job at the establishment on West Patrick earlier mentioned and named European House. Ironically, this was the original "Gem" location for those keeping score at home. Actually, the City Hotel next door would receive a makeover under new ownership after the death of Frank B. Carlin. It became the New City Hotel. The European changed hands as well and would come to be known as "The Buffalo Hotel and Restaurant." Wisely, Charles Hauer soon brought in his mentor with like name to help him manage the new venture.
Mr. Charles E. Haller moved into retirement in 1899, leaving Charles N. Hauer to make a name for himself. The world was clearly his oyster, or buffalo, take your pick.
Mr. Hauer was at the top of the oyster heap at the start of 1901. The Buffalo restaurant was roaring and the "Roaring Twenties" were still a few decades away. Unfortunately, Hood's Sasparilla would not be a sure-fire cured for what "ill-ed" Charles N. Hauer. He would pass on March 10th, 1901 at the age of 41. His death certificate in our cemetery files gives pneumonia as cause of death. He would be buried two days later in Area L/Lot 82. His gravesite can be found directly behind the Key Memorial Chapel. Just look for the sizeable monument with the BPOE Elks symbol on it, as Hauer's widow (Clara) would remarry a man (William Myers) belonging to the fraternal order, and proud of the fact, I might add.
Nowadays, tavern food has expanded to things such as hamburgers, nachos, hot wings, and mozzarella sticks. But hail to the bivalves! Raw bar items such as oysters, mussels and clams, along with decapod crustaceans in the form of steamed shrimp, are a special treat, and go incredibly perfect with beer any day of the week, and twice on Sundays.
Frederick has continued to welcome oyster establishments and retail sales since the bawdy 19th century and height of the "oyster craze." The mollusk can be found at a multitude of restaurants throughout Frederick City and county and serve them up in a variety of ways. On top of that, oyster fritters are still a delicacy sold as fundraisers by groups ranging from churches to fire companies. As I said earlier, firemen love oysters!
Ironically, my last "meal out" was the night before the mandatory quarantine of dining in restaurants went into effect. I enjoyed a fried oyster dinner at Callahans. Now that was a heavenly "final supper" so to speak—I wouldn't have traded it for anything.
You may not be aware of this, but April is Maryland Archeology Month. This has been the case since 1993 when Archeology Month was officially proclaimed by Governor William Donald Schaefer as “ a celebration of the remarkable archeological discoveries related to at least 12,000 years of human occupation here in “the Old-Line State.”
Maryland Archeology Month has annually provided the public with opportunities to become involved and excited about archeology. With a variety of events offered statewide every April, including exhibits, lectures, site tours, and occasions to participate as volunteer archeologists, “Archeology Month elicits the gathering of interested Marylanders at various occasions to share their enthusiasm for scientific archeological discovery.” This according to the Maryland Archeological Trust, the chief sponsor of activities.
Well, scheduled Maryland Archeology Month activities for 2020 were postponed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. These include featured lectures across the state, but most importantly the Field Schools, or Sessions, which are open to the general public. This year’s theme was Partners in Pursuit of the Past: 50 Field Sessions in Maryland Archeology. The Field Sessions are 11-day intensive archeological research investigations held every spring in partnership between the Archeological Society of Maryland, a State-wide organization of lay and professional archeologists, and the fore-mentioned Maryland Historical Trust, a part of the Maryland Department of Planning and home to the State’s Office of Archeology. While these two partners host the event every year, others are required to make the Field Sessions happen, including researchers/principal Investigators, archeological supervisory staff, property owners, and volunteers from the public.
I had some prior knowledge and experience in the realm of archeology thanks to my work with a documentary produced in 1999 and entitled Monocacy: the Pre-history of Frederick County, Maryland. Here I got to learn first-hand from state archeologists and local/avocational lay people. One of these was my chief mentor for the project, Spenser O. Geasey (1925-2007).
I would love to write a comprehensive “Story in Stone” on this New York native who spent the majority of his life in Frederick County, but he is buried in Mount Prospect Cemetery up in Lewistown (MD). This was close to his boyhood home of Mountaindale, which helped inspire his interest with arrowhead finds as a child. He always made it a point to tell me he was nothing more than an “avocational archeologist”—avocational translating to hobbyist without holding a degree in the field.
Spencer was a World War II vet (304th Infantry/76th Division) who would make his living as Housing Manager at Fort Detrick. After retirement from the Army base, he worked as an archeological field assistant for the State Highway Administration. Although not formally trained in the field, his favorite hobby and passion would have him advising local, state and national professionals as he became an expert on Frederick’s native peoples through weekend exploration for fun. He walked the fields and carefully took notes which blossomed into extensive scientific reports for state archeological periodicals.
Spencer regularly surface collected (with permission) and donated these artifacts (nearly 41,000) to the state collection housed at Jefferson-Patterson Park & Museum of Archeology in Prince Frederick in Calvert County. The MAC (Maryland Archeological Conservation) Laboratory has research space for working with the collections, a library of site reports and other material (such as field notes) and a variety of analytical equipment. Interestingly, this site along the Patuxent River in southern Calvert County is less than a stone’s throw from the birthplace of the famed Johnson brothers buried in Mount Olivet: Gov. Thomas Johnson, Jr., James Johnson, Baker Johnson, Joshua Johnson and perhaps Roger Johnson (but the latter is debatable).
Spencer kept his proverbial “ear to the ground” and notified state officials when he felt that local sites were in danger of being disturbed. This most often happened with commercial or residential development and roadways. He helped organize the Maryland Archeological Society, regularly spoke to school children and civic groups about native peoples and was involved in the publication of several articles about the topic here locally in Frederick County and the State of Maryland. All of these “avocational“-archeological activities led to Spencer receiving the Calvert Prize in 1993, the highest award for preservation in Maryland. In fact, he was the first archeologist to win the coveted honor.
In my special time spent with Spencer, we built a great friendship. He showed me prehistoric rock shelters and fish wiers in the river. We walked several, freshly plowed farm fields in springtime. Best of all, he took me on personal tours of three of the state’s most studied and important sites: the previously mentioned Biggs Ford site (north of Frederick), the Rosenstock site (east of Frederick City) and the Noland’s Ferry site (in southern Frederick County along the Potomac). You could not have had a better guide than the one I had.
I also gained the opportunity through Spencer to learn about Frederick’s early archeologists, and others who dabbled in collecting under a bit more unscrupulous title as “relic hunters.” The noble archeologist goes about his search of artifacts in the name of science and history exploration, taking careful notes and handling any and all human remains with the greatest of respect. The relic hunter is generally looking to cash in on his finds, raiding ancient gravesites and selling off local treasures to collectors throughout the country. I want to note here that some of these “relic hunters” did not have bad intentions as they simply participated in a hobby, and kept the prized finds for themselves and unselfishly shared their artifacts with the community in terms of education as their efforts were a labor of love and learning.
Spencer introduced me to two of these men, that not only were Frederick County natives, but are buried within the confines of Mount Olivet Cemetery—John Jacob Snyder (1890-1968) and Edward Ralston Goldsborough (1879-1949).
John Jacob Snyder
I will start with a man that Spencer Geasey interacted with personally. John Jacob Snyder was reintroduced to me when I created a memorial page for him a few years back in building our MountOlivetVets.com website. Snyder was a Frederick native and military veteran of the First World War. He was born on May 7th, 1890, the son of William F. Snyder and wife, Florence Walter. He grew up in a house located at 127 N. Market Street and attended Frederick City public schools. On his MountOlivetVets.com memorial page, I included the following information regarding military service after his induction as a 27 year-old private on March 23rd, 1918:
5/14/1918, Headquarters School for Radio Mechanics (College Station, TX)
7/2/1918, C Squadron, Ellington Field (Texas)
8/10/1918, Field Artillery Training, Fort Sill (Oklahoma)
10/9/1918, Promoted to Private First Class, 328th Aero Squadron
1/11/1919 12th Company, 154th Depot Brigade
Honorable Discharge 1/28/1919
I’m assuming that John J. Snyder had an opportunity to add to his interests and experiences with native cultures while serving with the US Army in the western states of Texas and Oklahoma. It seems to have been a love nurtured in his youth in Frederick. While conducting internet and newspaper searches on him, I came across a small classified ad in the Maryland Archeological Bulletin dated January 12th, 1912 on page 34:
In a later Maryland archeology publication, I found a story in which Snyder caught the attention of the state’s professional community. John had discovered what is commonly called today, the Rosenstock site. This is a Late Woodland village located atop a 7-meter-high bluff overlooking the Monocacy River. First off, the Woodland period is a cultural classification roughly representing the time period of 1000BC to the time of European contact in the 1600 AD. The bluff location of the former native village is a narrow, level promontory bounded by a deep ravine on the north, the river on the west, and a small stream on the south.
The site, known since just after the turn of the century, has remained uncultivated since 1913 and currently is wooded. Since an initial exploration in the early 1900s, the Rosenstock site lay largely forgotten until it was reported to the State Archeologist in 1970. Subsequently, the State Archeologist’s office, in cooperation with the Archeological Society of Maryland, Inc. (ASM), carried out systematic testing of the site in 1979, and more extensive excavations in 1990-1992. Each of these projects was undertaken as part of the ASM Annual Field Session in Maryland Archeology.
John Jacob Snyder discovered the particular site on October 15th, 1907. Snyder, then a 17-year-old, was apparently “hunting for dogwood” on the Samuel Rosenstock farm, today making up Clustered Spires Municipal Golf Course. Snyder related at the time, “I was keeping to windward that was to the east on account of the Dogs [Russian Wolf Hounds], and hiding behind a shock of fodder saw 3 nice arrows about the shock so it was found by mere coincidence but I never got the dogwood.” At the time of discovery, the site—having been cleared of timber in 1884—was plowed.
Snyder reported finding abundant pottery shards, triangular projectile points, clay, stone, and bone beads, discoidals, shale discs (about 3” in diameter with a hole drilled in the center), celts, and clay and steatite pipes at Rosenstock, which he considered the “most outstanding site” in the Monocacy Valley. The valuable location took the name Snyder’s “Site #1,” and farm cultivation would cease in 1913 in an effort to assist future researchers.
John J. Snyder married Frances Catherine Riehl and raised his family at 24 E. Fourth Street in Frederick. In addition to his work as an avocational archaeologist, he spent his career as an electrical repairman and vulcanizer (skilled worker with rubber). He proudly displayed his Indian artifact collection to professionals and county residents for decades until his death on March 9th , 1968. He is buried in Mount Olivet’s Area GG/Lot 170.
Edward Ralston Goldsborough
Although Spencer Geasey could only talk about “Ralston” Goldsborough anecdotally through his past research and findings, I actually had the opportunity to meet one of his close relatives, and am actually married to one much more distant. I was particularly interested in this man who, like Spencer, made an incredible contribution through his research and work resulting in scholarly research by a non-professional.
Edward Ralston Goldsborough was born on July 8th, 1879, the product of a very interesting pedigree which included Robert Goldsborough (1735-1788), a delegate to the Continental Congress, and Frederick Town’s supposed first settler, John Thomas Schley.
Ralston was the only son of a prominent attorney and veteran of the American Civil War, Major Edward Yerbury Goldsborough. I need to tell you a bit about this Goldsborough family first as valuable context can be gleaned in respect to Ralston’s interest in archeology, genealogy and local/Maryland history. Ralston’s 5th great-grandfather, Nicholas Goldsborough, arrived from England (via Barbados) a few decades after Maryland’s founding and settled near Kent Island in the late 1660s. The next two Goldsborough generations would accumulate wealth and settle in the Eastern Shore areas of Easton in Talbot County and further south in Cambridge, Dorchester County along the Chesapeake Bay and Choptank River.
The fore-mentioned Robert Goldsborough would rise to the highest ranks of Maryland politics and play a substantial role as delegate to the Continental Congress and Maryland’s participation in the American Revolution. He narrowly missed his chance at eternal fame as being a Founding Father. Like Thomas Johnson, Jr., he was not present in Philadelphia on July 4th, 1776 for the signing of the Declaration of Independence, having withdrawn his position six weeks earlier to help frame Maryland’s first state constitution.
Robert Goldsborough was friends with fellow patriot, Thomas Johnson, Jr., and this likely guided a future Goldsborough connection to Frederick County. Robert’s son, Dr. William Goldsborough (1763-1826), moved to Frederick and bought several properties from Thomas Johnson, including Johnson’s 138-acre plantation of Richfield. Johnson, whose health was frail at the time, had accepted an invitation to live with his daughter and son-in-law at Rose Hill Manor. He had built the latter for the couple as a wedding gift.
Dr. William and wife, Sarah Worthington Goldsborough, lived here at Richfield until moving in town shortly before his death in 1826. The location was another property acquired earlier from Gov. Johnson, that sat on 115-117 East Church Street, later destined to be Frederick’s first public Female High School and the headquarters of Frederick County Public Schools.
Dr. William Goldsborough died without a will, but with debts which seems to be a recurring theme for family members in the future. His wife, Sarah, sold the Richfield property with mansion house on the east side of the Frederick-Emmitsburg turnpike road to John Schley in 1829 and granted the property on the west side to son, Edward Yerbury Goldsborough, Sr. (1797-1850). Edward, Sr. was our subject Ralston’s paternal grandfather, and had married Margaret Schley (1802-1876) a descendant of John Thomas Schley, the German Reformed Church’s first choirmaster and builder of Frederick’s first house. The wedding occurred in 1826.
Edward and Margaret Goldsborough would have five children: Mary Catherine (1827-1899); William (1830-1853); John (1835-1885); Edward Yerbury, Jr. (b. 1839) and Robert Henry (1842-1882). The family obtained a town-home in downtown Frederick in the first block of W. Patrick Street, where Dr. Goldsborough based his work office as well. William's History of Frederick County says the following about Dr. E. Y. Goldsborough, Sr. :
He was educated for the medical profession, graduated from the medical department of the University of Maryland, and began to practice in Frederick City in 1826. His untiring energy, his skill, and his devotion to his profession, soon brought him a large practice. Dr. Goldsborough was a polished gentleman, and was not only respected for his skill as a physician, but was beloved and esteemed for his kindness to all of his patients, especially to the poor. He died while out on his visits to patients, November 4, 1850.
After her husband's death, Margaret Goldsborough continued to raise her children into adulthood from the residence on West Patrick Street, while still holding the farm property north of the city purchased by her late husband's parents from Thomas Johnson.
The Titus Atlas map of 1873 shows the Goldsborough residence in the first block of W. Patrick Street on the south side with a back yard stretching to Carroll Creek. This is approximately the site of today's Weinberg Center. (c.1910) view of the first block of W. Patrick St. (looking east). In the photo below, the author believes the former Goldsborough residence is the three-story home with twin dormer windows (3rd structure from right) captured in this photograph taken around 1910
Two of Mrs. Goldsborough's sons became noted professionals in their fields and participated in the American Civil War. Both received their early education at the Frederick Academy just a few short blocks from their home. John Schley Goldsborough chose the medical profession and graduated from the University of Maryland. On the outbreak of the Civil War, he volunteered as a surgeon in the Union army and was actively engaged in hospital work at Harper's Ferry and in this city. When the war came to a close he had become somewhat disenchanted of his profession. The doctor devoted himself to agricultural pursuits, having ample means for the purpose and lived as a gentleman.
Upon graduation from the Academy in 1859, John's younger brother, Edward Yerbury Goldsborough, Jr., became a law student in the office of Joseph M. Palmer and was accepted to the Frederick bar in October, 1861. He opened his own practice at this time as the winds of war were swirling. In August of 1862, he would receive a commission in the Union army as a second lieutenant in the Eighth Regiment, Maryland Volunteer Infantry. In 1863, his service became more political as he had been nominated by Frederick County's union party to serve as State's Attorney (for Frederick County).
Another historical account says that Edward "served briefly in the Maryland Infantry of the U. S. Army in 1862-1863, but was mustered out due to illness. Still, he was a volunteer on General E. B. Tyler's staff during the Battle of the Monocacy in 1864, for which he earned the rank of Major. Beginning in 1869, he served as a United States Marshal for the district of Maryland, and he is often referred to by either ''Major" or ''Marshal" in historical accounts. He was known as a fine lecturer on the Civil War and his foreign travels and as an active Agricultural Society member.
Margaret Schley Goldsborough died on Christmas day, 1876. A few years before her death, she took great pride in the fact that her son Edward had courted a young debutante from the Midwest with familial ties to one of the most famous politicians and legal minds in the country. The couple married in 1874.
Margaret was laid to rest beside her oldest son William, who died in 1853 at the age of 23, in Mount Olivet's area E/Lot 15. Her husband is buried on the other side of William. A large obelisk and ledger stones mark these gravesites.
Within a few yards are the graves of Margaret's in-laws, William and Sarah Worthington Goldsborough, and her husband's brothers: Nicholas W. Goldsborough (1795-1840), a War of 1812 veteran, and Dr. Charles H. Goldsborough (1800-1862). These monuments are exactly across from the Potts Lot, the only area remaining "gated" in the cemetery.
Finally getting back on track with the biography of Edward Ralston Goldsborough, his parents married in June of 1874.
Ralston’s mother, Amy Ralston Auld, was a grandniece of politician/jurist Salmon P. Chase (1808-1873) who served as the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, replacing Roger Brooke Taney. She was born in St. Louis, Missouri and I'm assuming they met in Washington, DC where she lived with her famous relatives.
Ralston spent his childhood in Frederick City at a family home then located at 54 West Patrick Street, this would be 114 W. Patrick Street with today's numbering system. Ralston attended school in the city and took an interest local figures in Frederick's history, and those that came long before.
More history of the Frederick County Goldsborough family can be found within a Maryland Historic Trust' State Historic Sites Inventory property summary for another residence of Edward Y. Goldsborough, Jr. The aptly named Edward Y. Goldsborough House is located at 6739 Clifton Road west of Frederick. This was a family summer home and farm located on the eastern slope of Catoctin Mountain below Braddock Heights. Edward Y. Goldsborough, Jr. bought the property in the 1860s and Ralston places this as his birth location in later records.
Continuing through his youth, Ralston Goldsborough took delight in finding Indian artifacts in the fields that surrounded his grandparent’s former plantation of Richfield, located a few short miles north of Frederick City. The plantation house of the Schley’s (named Richfield) exists today and was the birthplace of Admiral Winfield Scott Schley, a naval hero of the Spanish-American War. He was also a cousin of Ralston.
The Richfield mansion was childhood home to Ralston's grandfather as I had earlier said it had been the site of Thomas Johnson's former mansion, with a house rebuilt by Ralston's grandfather William after a devastating fired destroyed the original Johnson dwelling in 1815. It sits between today’s US route 15 and the Monocacy River. Ralston's grandparents had kept the property to the west of the turnpike which is basically today's site of Crumland Farms and Homewood Retirement Community. Many of the artifacts found by young Ralston likely came from inhabitants of the neighboring Biggs Ford site on the east side of the Monocacy. This was their immediate hunting ground, a primeval forest before the European settlers cleared the land for farming.
Ralston began hunting other local Indian sites, tracing Indian trails and collecting artifacts. His early interests were encouraged by his mother, who worked as an assistant in the office of the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institute. Ralston would graduate from Lehigh University and afterwards serve as a civil engineer in Frederick County, with an office at one time in Winchester Hall.
The modern-day aerial view captures the former Goldsborough properties north of Frederick City and on both sides of US15 below the intersection with Biggs ford Road and Sundays Lane. The Richfield House is located within the small cluster of buildings across the highway from Beckley's Motel marked on the map.
Goldsborough was in contact with professional archeologists at the Smithsonian, but most were too busy with research in far-off parts of the world to study the nearby Indian locations which he pointed out in Monocacy Valley. He too ingratiated himself to Maryland’s earliest professionals in the field and became one of them.
Sometime between the Rosenstock site discovery in 1907 and October 1909, John J. Snyder—who communicated closely with other artifact collectors in the Frederick area—revealed the site location to E. Ralston Goldsborough. Goldsborough visited the site on October 10th, 1909, and on October 26th received permission from Samuel Rosenstock to carry out excavations. Here is a summary of his notes written in 1911.
Goldsborough said that the village site was visible on the ground as a dark discolored area covering either 1.5 or 1.6 acres “by actual survey.” Between November 5th and December 8th of that year, Goldsborough spent eleven days excavating a series of trenches at Rosenstock, which was then planted in clover. With one exception, which is not specified, the depth of the trenches did not exceed 12 inches. The trenches—situated “one hundred and ten feet from the river, about the center of the site and parallel with it” —are depicted on a plan map, but there are no identifiable landmarks shown; discrepancies between written measurements and with the scale also detract from the map.
From these excavations, estimated at 361 ft, Goldsborough recovered nearly 3,000 objects, including pottery, clay pipes, steatite beads, bone implements, and triangular arrow points. Several thousand animal bones included those of deer, raccoon, bird, dog, turtle, and beaver. This research was included in various editions of The Archaeological Bulletin in 1912. E. Ralston Goldsborough had truly arrived!
In a report from 1912, Goldsborough notes that the pottery at Rosenstock, with its distinctive rim collar, is different from the pottery types found at other sites in the Monocacy valley, and speculates that it is the result of Iroquoian or Siouan influence. He also illustrates some of the decorative motifs used in a series of “restored” pots. Despite being taken out of cultivation in 1913, the Rosenstock site continued to attract artifact collectors.
According to Snyder, around 1920 two collectors (Dudley Page and Alan Smith) had the site plowed; “it paid off well in broken pipes discoidals ceremonial & other material.” The subsequent decades-long unplowed condition of the site notwithstanding, Rosenstock’s location remained known and it was occasionally surface-collected by various individuals, including Spencer Geasey, who brought the site to the attention of then-State Archeologist Tyler Bastian in 1970.
Nonetheless, the fallow and/or overgrown nature of the site since 1913 afforded a measure of protection not seen at most village sites in the region. Sadly, although the notes and writings of Snyder and Goldborough survive, the fate of the early artifact collections is less certain. Snyder’s collection from Rosenstock (which came to include the collections of Dudley Page, Allen Kemp, and some of Alan Smith’s material from the site) was owned by a Mr. Dennis Murphy as of 1979. A small sample of ceramic shards collected from Rosenstock by Dudley Page is curated by the Maryland Historical Trust. Spencer Geasey’s surface-collected material from Rosenstock is included in the extensive collections he donated to the Maryland Historical Trust in 1992.
During this time, the house was rented as a summer residence by wealthy Fredericktonians and others attracted to the vicinity of nearby Braddock Heights, the mountaintop village developed by the Hagerstown & Frederick Railway alonq with its amusement park. According to Anne Hooper's Braddock Heights: A Glance Backward, the Goldsborough House during this period was an unofficial "Frederick Country Club,” with prestigious social events and parties.
Ralston’s Personal Life
Let's return to E. Ralston Goldsborough's home life, shall we? Ralston can be found living with his parents well into adulthood and his thirties. His father died in 1915, which came as somewhat of a shock. He would stay with his mother until her death in 1921. Not long after, he finally settled down, at least temporarily.
Ralston married divorcee Frances Lillian Roger (nee Ashbaugh) on November 22nd, 1922. The bride was the daughter of William Ashbaugh and Rachel Dyer. She had divorced her husband two years prior and was teaching school in Emmitsburg. The couple was married in Gettysburg and took up residence at his family farm on Clifton Road on the mountain. He inherited the farm upon his parent’s death. It appears that he raised chickens as several newspaper articles point to fair and other competition entries under his name. He began selling off portions of his property in the late 1920s before parting with the whole in 1930.
During this time, the house was rented as a summer residence by wealthy Fredericktonians and others attracted to the vicinity of nearby Braddock Heights, the mountaintop village developed by the Hagerstown & Frederick Railway alonq with its amusement park. According to Anne Hooper's Braddock Heights: A Glance Backward, the Goldsborough House during this period was an unofficial "Frederick Country Club,” with prestigious social events and parties. Oh, the "Roaring Twenties," but apparently not a great ending to the decade, or start to the first for our subject.
I found a 1931 directory that shows the couple living at 29 Jefferson Street. Sadly I also found the following classified ad printed in the Frederick paper that year:
I had heard that Ralston battled the demon of alcoholism during his life, and this perhaps contributed to a Sheriff’s sale of his property and a subsequent divorce in the early 1930s at the onset of the Great Depression. A story exists that at this time Ralston could regularly be found walking the streets of Frederick offering to produce family genealogies for the price of a dollar. Although the Stock Market Crash of 1929 could have cost him his home, fortune and marriage, the Depression did eventually provide Goldsborough employment with an opportunity to continue his dream as an archeologist. He would be tapped as the local director of WPA (Works Progress Administration) work relief in the field of archeology for Frederick County.
Through US government funding, Ralston had as his official sponsor the Maryland School for the Deaf. He investigated a number of local American Indian sites, including a rock-shelter and a small village. Although he maintained a healthy correspondence with other archeologists in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, DC, Goldsborough does not seem to have completed a formal report on his WPA investigations.
Virginia Commonwealth University alumnus Brenna McHenry Godsey assembled and examined the available archival record on Goldsborough’s work housed at the Historical Society of Frederick County, Maryland, while she was still a student. These records focused largely on Goldsborough’s pre-New Deal archaeological work. It remains unclear exactly what the nature of his relationship was with the Maryland School for the Deaf. Was the School simply a project sponsor, or did some of their charges participate in the WPA excavations? Regardless, Goldsborough produced a map showing numbered sites of special interest in Frederick County, and collected a vast array of artifacts which remain in the Bjorlee Archival Collection of the Maryland School of the Deaf.
It is also thought that the Rosenstock material excavated by Goldsborough decades earlier may also be included in this same artifact collection prepared for the Maryland School for the Deaf during the WPA project. I had the opportunity to work with MSD back in 1997 in an effort to access and film Goldsborough’s map and hundreds of artifacts for my Monocacy documentary. I’m hoping Goldsborough’s treasures at the school will make their way out of storage again one-day, and go on display for local residents and visitors to behold.
Census records and directories show me that the couple apparently never formally divorced. Frances took up residence at 347 S. Market Street. in 1935 and can be found renting an apartment at 306 N. Market Street. in 1940. Ralston made his home during this time in Room 3 of the Pythian Castle, located in the middle of N. Court Street, a half block north of his childhood town home located near the corner of Court and W. Patrick streets—the site of today’s county courthouse.
The files of the Frederick County Historical Society (Heritage Frederick) remain filled with Ralston’s research in the form of newspaper clippings and original manuscripts typed on onion skin paper. Many of those manuscripts and writings/research on Frederick history have the Pythian Castle address typed as their place of origin under Goldsborough’s hand.
The last decade of his life saw him working as a top-tier genealogist. With his vast knowledge of Frederick's past, he was an easy choice to serve as Frederick City's official historian for the town's Bicentennial celebration in 1945. He wrote several articles and presented lectures on local topics and helped create a successful history pageant and other related events.
Sadly, E. Ralston Goldsborough would suffer failing health in his final several years. This would not only throw him in poverty, but also led to a domicile change to the Frederick County Home at Montevue, northwest of town. Here he died on May 7th, 1949. He was buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Area G/Lot 162.
His grave, in the shadow of a large obelisk erected to the memory of his paternal uncle, Dr. John Goldsborough (1835-1885), was unmarked until a marker stone was placed around here in 1998 by a relative. This was during the time I was doing my research on Ralston for my documentary.
I vividly recall contacting Superintendent Ron Pearcey back in late 1997 for help in finding the grave of E. Ralston Goldsborough. He took me to the unmarked grave and let me know that he had been working with a family relative living in Delaware who was paying for a monument to be done. I hoped this gentleman may be able to provide me with a picture and more insight into the man few remembered, but was responsible for a tremendous body of work on the native peoples in our area.
Ron gave me the name and address of Richard Duvall Goldsborough, Jr. of Bayville, DE. I was excited in contacting Mr. Goldsborough and soon found that he lived just a mile from my family’s beach trailer located near the Fenwick Lighthouse in Fenwick Island (DE). Mr. Goldsborough graciously invited me to dinner to discuss his “archeological cousin” the next time I was “down the shore.”
This visit eventually transpired in the summer of 1999. No pictures came about of E. Ralston (as I am still in search of one), but Richard shared the story of his remembrance of attending Ralston’s funeral with his parents. Richard lived in Baltimore, as did his folks, at the time and said that his father had kept a long-time correspondence with Ralston. He recalled childhood visits to Frederick with his dad to visit the peculiar man who told them rich stories of family history and local Indians on each trip.
Upon learning of his failing health in spring of 1949, Richard and his father traveled to Frederick to make plans for Ralston’s burial as the archeologist had made none for himself, and had no immediate family. It would have been customary for Ralston to have been buried in Montevue’s potter’s field. As the next of kin, Richard’s father made arrangements for Ralston to be buried with his own parents in a lot adjoining the previously mentioned Dr. John Goldsborough. Dr. John was Richard Sr.’s grandfather and Richard Jr’s great-grandfather. Dr. John named his son Edward Yerbury Goldsborough as well, and he is buried in this lot. Of course this man is Richard Sr.’s father, and was named in honor of Ralston’s grandfather—Edward Yerbury Goldsborough. Dr. John’s father was William Goldsborough, the Confederate brother of Ralston’s father, Edward Yerbury, Jr. So to review the complicated family genealogy, my friend Richard’s great-grandfather (William), and Ralston’s father (Edward), were brothers.
My dinner host shared with me the fact that Ralston had lost all his money through personal vices and never got around to putting a proper headstone on his own parent’s gravesite. Ralston’s father had passed suddenly in 1915 leaving wife Amy in dire straits. She would die in 1921 and things never really straightened out for Ralston financially speaking. Richard said that his father had always spoke of putting a stone on the graves of Ralston and his parents but never got around to it either. This was unfinished business, and Richard, Jr. never forgot his father’s intention. With medical issues of his own, Richard contacted Mount Olivet in the late 1990s to pre-plan burial arrangements for both himself and wife Beulah in a pair of grave-lots within Dr. John Goldsborough’s family plot. His parents were laid to rest here back in the 1970s.
The new stone was finally completed in 1998 and placed over the grave of Ralston and his parents. Although I talked to Richard on the phone just once more after our dinner and shared a mail correspondence a few years later, we lost touch with each other. Not knowing his fate, I took solace in knowing that he is here buried in Mount Olivet, having died in 2010—a decade after our dinner meeting. His wife, Beulah, died the following year. That night at his house, I would learn that Beulah’s sister was married to an elderly third cousin of mine living in northern Delaware, the oldest member in a family line.
I said at the onset that my wife is descended by Goldsboroughs as well. Her mother Virginia was a Goldsborough who grew up in Bladensburg (MD) and traces her direct line back through Annapolis and across the bay to the Goldsboroughs of Cambridge, Maryland. Remarkably, she and her husband moved to Frederick County and eventually settled in a development off Sunday's Lane, not far from the former Goldsborough family property on the west side of US15.
Against their will, I once made a surprise pit-stop in Cambridge, Maryland while traveling to the beach for vacation. Here, I dragged my wife and stepsons to Christ Episcopal Church Cemetery in Cambridge to see their dead ancestors including ("almost" Declaration of Independence signer) Robert Goldsborough. You recall that it was Robert’s son William who came to Frederick around 1800. Robert had another son (William’s brother) named Dr. Richard Yerbury Goldsborough (1768-1815), and this is who my wife is descended from. He is buried at Christ Episcopal along with plenty of other Goldsborough relatives including my mother-in-law's great-uncle, Phillips Lee Goldsborough (1865-1946). Phillips Lee was Maryland's 47th governor, serving from 1912-1916. He later was elected US Senator and held that seat from 1929-1935.
In either case, that greater genealogist than I, E. Ralston Goldsborough, and my wife, both trace their amazing Maryland lineage back to Continental Congress delegate Robert Goldsborough, and original immigrant to America, Nicholas Goldsborough (1640-1670). History is complicated and tedious at times, but it's certainly worth the "dig!"
Of late, my commute home from Mount Olivet Cemetery to the Rosedale/Villa Estates neighborhood on the northwest side of Frederick has been as quiet as can be. Hey, I’m not complaining, and never have, since I have been so very fortunate to both work and reside here in Frederick for the last 30 years. I know darn well that I am one of the lucky ones having grown up seeing both of my parents commute to Bethesda each work day throughout my childhood.
I can usually get to and from work in about ten minutes, and without the aid of major roads or a highway. In fact, I primarily use back streets and alleys, the names of a few may not even register with some readers. And on my way, I only have four turns to make once I leave the cemetery. So join me for my commute home, and I'll give you an impromptu, local-history tour/lesson along the way. Don't worry, we'll be properly "socially distanced," and I'm guessing that most of you have plenty of time to kill while in self-quarantine lockdown.
To begin, for those unfamiliar with the Rosedale/Villa Estates which I call home, it sits just north of Rosemont Avenue, sandwiched between US15 and Fort Detrick. Homes were primarily built here between 1930-1950, providing housing for many newcomers to Frederick employed at "Camp Detrick" during, and after, World War II. These included doctors and scientists from around the country and world, completely changing the cultural fabric of "small-town" Frederick which had been in existence for nearly 200 years up to that point.
The neighborhood does have a nice park area and serves home to Frederick's current mayor—so we have that going for us! Fittingly, as you will soon see with this week’s story’s central theme, my neighborhood is best known today for its vehicular “cut-through” streets (linking Rosemont Avenue to West Seventh Street) probably more than anything else.
Most of these roadways are named for leading historical figures: Schley Avenue (Admiral Winfield Scott Schley—Frederick boy turned naval commander and hero of the Spanish American War), Taney Avenue (Roger Brooke Taney--Frederick lawyer turned controversial Supreme Court justice), Grant Place (Ulysses S. Grant--Union general during the American Civil War and our 18th US president), Wilson Avenue (Woodrow Wilson--our 28th US president who served during WWI and the 1918 Spanish Influenza pandemic), and Lee Place (Robert E. Lee--Confederate general during American Civil War). Military Road (self-explanatory) runs along the northwestern perimeter of the Villa Estates and neighboring Fort Detrick and there is one more named Biggs Avenue, but that one seems to be a head scratcher. We'll pick that one up later.
Speaking of streets, those belonging to the City of Frederick are far from bustling at the time of this writing (mid-April, 2020). This has been the case for multiple weeks now, thanks to the mandated state quarantine urging people to stay at home in an effort to curb the spread of the Coronavirus disease/Covid-19.
If you are lucky enough to escape your house for a glimpse of life on the outside, you may spot a person or an occasional couple walking along the sidewalk--but I can’t even remember the last time I saw more than ten people gathered together in one place, let alone five. I smile in thinking that just two months earlier I found myself irate and stranded for ten minutes (no lie) trying to make a simple right turn while downtown. I had been doing some history research at C. Burr Artz Library and parked in the adjacent garage late that Saturday morning. I exited the garage okay but ignorantly decided to exit onto S. Market Street (by Wags restaurant). My error was forgetting that it was Downtown Frederick’s First Saturday, and not just any First Saturday, but February’s “Fire & Ice” First Saturday. The city was mobbed with people by the time I had left the library that afternoon!
As I said a minute ago, these days, one sees but a few people out along the streets in late afternoon/early evening. They are usually engaged in a brief evening stroll or picking up carry-out from the multitude of busy restaurants and eateries offering "curb-side service." Some folks out walking are donning sneakers and shorts, while others have covered themselves from head to toe while wearing latex gloves and face masks. What puzzles me most is seeing other motorists with face-coverings, and they are the only ones in the car? How are they going to catch, or transmit any viruses while driving? "To each their own," I guess, especially during these anxious and curious times.
Driving While “Stoned”
I knew this sub- title would grab your attention, but it’s not what you think! When I was driving home one day last week, I contemplated upcoming topics for this blog. At the same time, I found myself taking extra notice of the thoroughfare names I utilize each and every workday. More so, I took specific interest in the names behind these streets traveled. It quickly dawned on me that this was somewhat like the “Stories in Stone” blog format itself, in which I research the names on gravestones and make connections to other elements of the community through people's life stories. I figured I could effectively “kill two birds with one stone” so to speak, and figure out for whom these streets are named, and then attempt to find these individuals in Mount Olivet, if they so happen to be buried here. So let's go!
LEG 2 — "Frederick's Other City"
Here’s an interesting piece of trivia to “wow” your friends and family with: Did you know that Mount Olivet Cemetery contains over eight miles of paved roadways? In addition to serving as a great place to work, visit, learn history and spend eternity, the cemetery is also a fabulous safe-haven for reverent recreationalists in the form of walkers, runners and cyclists.
From my office, located within our administration office and mausoleum complex in the south end of the 100-acre burying ground, it’s a 1.3 mile-drive to the Key monument and cemetery's main/front gate positioned off S. Market Street. Call me a rebel, but I refuse to attempt a left turn in afternoon rush hour onto Market Street—doing so would double, or perhaps triple, my entire commute time! .....so says the idiot who wanted to drive on Market Street during "Fire & Ice First Saturday." I choose instead to use our side gate located off Fox’s Alley and Broadway Street. Those who use Stadium Drive each day to accomplish this daring feat (turning left onto S. Market) know exactly what I’m talking about.
Interestingly, before I exit Mount Olivet, I've passed by the gravesites of at least four of the street namesakes involved in my commute. In addition, I passed another who isn't a true street namesake, but simply shares a moniker. I also passed a few more stones that have other connections to why things were named the way they are today. Now that I've likely either piqued your interest, or totally confused the heck out of you, let's pick up the second leg/part of my journey as I depart the "City of the Departed."
LEG 2 —"On Broadway”
Albeit brief, I will include Fox's Alley in my story. I’m usually only on this for 1.7 seconds as I cross over to Broadway Street. Many commuters use this quiet lane (Fox's Alley) on their way home to bypass the stoplight at S. Market and Madison streets. This is a much better, and safer, alternative than those who insist on cutting through the cemetery, especially considering the safety and solitude of our visitors and recreationalists. Yes, we've had some near misses with people speeding on through which has prompted management to close this side gate now in late afternoon.
Fox's Alley takes its name from John S. Fox, former proprietor of Fox’s Sport and Bait shop at 501 S. Market. This business just left us last year, but since around 1959 was an ideal place for one-stop-shopping, especially if your wife asked you to stop and pick-up a 6-pack of beer and pound of nightcrawlers on your way home.
Mr. Fox (1911-1989) sold the establishment a few years before his death to Bill Offutt, son of local attorney Jerome Offutt. Mr. Offutt was assisted by daughter Lauralea over the years as it kept the Fox’s name for a little bit but changed to Offutt’s Sport and Bait. Recently this property was sold and received a true business makeover, opening as the Stanley Salon. Oh, if Mr. Fox could see it now!
When I brought his name up to Superintendent Ron Pearcey, he immediately smiled. Ron knew Mr. Fox quite well and frequented his store regularly over the years, particularly for ice cream and purchasing miniatures for his boss, former cemetery superintendent Robert Kline. This practice, however, came to a halt once Mrs. Kline discovered the ruse of Mr. Kline having Ron make the secret purchases on his behalf.
Ron hurriedly left my office for a second, saying, "Hold on Chris, I want to check on something." He returned a minute later and belted out, “February 26, 1964.” I asked, “What about it?” He said that this was the day Mr. Fox bought his burial lots and then proceeded to tell me his funniest remembrance of Mr. Fox, told to him by the previously mentioned, Mr. Kline.
Ron said that Mr. Fox approached his old boss (Bob Kline) about buying a gravesite back in the mid 1960s, with the distinct caveat that the location must have a good view of Sugarloaf Mountain. Apparently, Mr. Fox had a decent view of the monadnock from his home on Ball Road south of town. Mr. Kline brought Fox to Area GG/Lot 28 and said, “Will this lot suit you?” At this point, Mr. Fox immediately proceeded to lie down on the ground, and from that vantage point looked to the southeast towards Sugarloaf Mountain. After about a minute, Fox sprang back to up his feet and said to Kline, “That’ll do, I’ll take it!”
Mr. Fox’s wife passed in 1967 and was laid to rest here. Mr. Fox wouldn't join her here until August of 1989.
Once on Broadway Street, I usually think about the famed thoroughfare in New York City which becomes the country’s epicenter every December 31st. I sometimes also get a tune instantly playing in my head—the song “On Broadway” of course, performed first by the Drifters in the 1960s, and later covered by George Benson a decade later. I will honestly say that I have never heard the song (“On Broadway”) while actually driving on Broadway Street, but that doesn’t mean that I will continue to suppress the urge sometime to do so in the near future!
I wanted to see what Broadway looked like back on the 1873 Titus Atlas Map which I often reference with my "Stories in Stone" blog articles. Unfortunately, I couldn't find it, well at least all of it.
As you can see in the image above, Mount Olivet appears with the cemetery superintendent's house shaded black, as well as a little gap depicting our front gate off S. Market Street. The side gate would be located above the "C" in cemetery at about the second black line (above) as you can see the alley that constitutes Fox's Alley coming off S. Market.
As I drive north, Broadway Street crosses over Madison Street (named for James Madison, our fourth US president) and continues on until it joins a much older portion of road near the intersection with today’s Getzendanner’s Alley (on the east). This was formerly known as Mantz Street in 1873, and this road came off S. Market Street in a westerly fashion and turned north to connect with W. South Street (see Titus Atlas inset below left).
Broadway Street, itself, was not named for anyone in Frederick history, however, we do have a couple buried in Mount Olivet’s Area KK (Lots 51 and 52) by the name of Asia Cooper Broadway (1927-2010) and wife Hazel (Wells) Broadway. Even though Broadway Street does not honor Asia Broadway, I find it quite uncanny that Mr. Broadway was quite successful as a contractor in the paving and blacktop industry. This because of the sheer fact that streets and roadways are at the root, or should I say "route," of our conversation.
LEG 3 —Ice Cold Beer
Now, back to my ride home, and again, the title is alluding to nothing that I am doing behind the wheel on this ride home. As I depart Broadway, I cross over South Street (self-explanatory as this was once Frederick’s southernmost major thoroughfare) onto the coolest street in town--Ice Street. I learned that this narrow lane was originally called Tanner's Alley in an early newspaper article dating to 1832. It was so named for some tanneries located a few blocks north on Carroll Creek. Around the year 1840, an ice house was built by George J. Fischer (1809-1866) as he leased a lot from Elizabeth Hauer, a relative of Barbara Fritchie. The Hauers and Fritchie's were in the glove-making field which certainly was related to tanning. Fischer built his structure on the east side of Tanner's Alley, halfway between W. All Saints Street to the north and W. South Street to the south.
Fischer sold his property, known as “Ice House Lot” in 1855, and has continued to be called called Ice Street ever since, although some old deeds still say Tanner's Alley and others say Brewer's Alley. Marilyn found a 1905 deed that refers to the corridor as both: “Ice Street or Brewers Alley.” As we know, the former name would primarily stick to the stretch from W. South to W. All Saints, and Brewer's Alley would adorn the road up until its intersection with W. Patrick Street for most of the 19th century and into the 20th (before becoming Court).
To backtrack, W. All Saints Street is so named for All Saints Protestant Episcopal Church, originally located adjacent E. All Saints Street. The church and graveyard stood atop a hill that was bounded on its north side by Carroll Creek. The Protestant Episcopal congregation moved to a new location closer to the Frederick Court House around 1814, and a new congregation of whites and blacks worshipped together and took over the former location and built what was known as Old Hill Church. This would morph into Asbury Methodist Episcopal and would remain here until about 1921, when it opened a new church structure on the southwest corner of W. All Saints and present-day Court Street. (Note: Today, the original site of the All Saints and original Asbury church locations is the home of a luxury condo development known as Maxwell Place on Carroll Creek. )
LEG 4 —The Public's Street
I now cross over Frederick’s busiest, and oldest, roadway, Patrick Street, a part of the famed National Road which stretches from Baltimore to Vandalia, Illinois. This is said to have been named by Frederick’s founder, Daniel Dulany, after his cousin named Patrick Dulany (1686-1768), a noted theologian and clergyman of Dublin, Ireland noted as “an eloquent preacher, a man of wit and learning.”
Court Street continues for another few blocks but was originally known as Public(k) Street/Alley as it dates back to the time of the erection of Frederick County’s first courthouse, today’s Frederick City Hall. This occurred after Frederick became a county in 1748. Founder Daniel Dulany donated the lots for this purpose, and gladly, since his planned development of Frederick-Town would serve as county seat.
Travelers on the National Road, and court business called for a profusion of inns and taverns here dating back to the 18th century. Hotels could be found on or near the east side corners of old Public Alley at intersections with W. Patrick and W. Church streets. I recently wrote about Mrs. Catherine Kimball who operated “The Golden Lamb” Tavern on the northeast corner of today’s Court and W. Patrick which eventually morphed into The City Hotel, and later the Francis Scott Key Hotel in 1922—now luxury apartments.
Time out for a sidebar....Remember when I told you that the All Saints Protestant Episcopal congregation decided to abandon their former church structure down on E. All Saints Street to move closer to the courthouse? Well, here is where they went (on the left). This structure was used until the present church, fronting on W. Church Street and around the corner, was built in the 1855.
There was another interesting hotel on the SE corner of the former Public and W. Church streets which once stood on the parking lot of today’s M&T Bank. I pull into this parking lot on occasion to use the ATM on my way home. Some residents may recall this as Frederick’s earlier YMCA location, up until the building’s destruction by fire in 1974. Before that, you have to go back to the year 1907, at which time stood the Park Hotel—the final moniker for a very popular lodging location that dated back to the 1700s. We are fortunate to have a beautiful old photograph dating from between 1903-1905, showing the hotel and adjacent area.
The building would be demolished in 1907 to make room for the Young Men’s Christian Association which opened the following year. Preceding the Park Hotel, the structure took the name of the Carlin House, whose story will be told in a future article in context to proprietor Frank B. Carlin.
The roots for inns and taverns run deep at this location, a funny thing to say considering that "The Temple," a Paul Mitchell Partner School for hair design, is located next door these days. The first apparent petition to the county court for a license to operate a tavern in Frederick was made by Cleburn Simms, who presented the following petition in March, 1749:
"That your petitioner, having provided himself with accommodations fit for travelers and others, humbly prays that Your Worships would be pleased to grant him a license for ordinary keeping, he complying with the Act of Assembly in that case provided and he as in duty bound will pray."
The petition was accepted by the county court justices, and the site of the Simm's tavern was built right here at this location of the M&T Bank and Temple parking lot. When Mr. Simms died, his widow Mary became the first female to hold an innkeeper's license.
It is thought that this same location came into the ownership of a gentlemen named Samuel Swearingen who hosted the grand celebration dinner following the mock funeral of the 1765 Stamp Act in late November, 1765. The county court justices were all for taverns as we can see, but had little use for stamped paper from Great Britain.
One way or another, the existing inn at this location became operated by a man named John Dill and would later become known most commonly as “The Dill House." John Dill (1762-1741) is thought to be a Frederick native and operated the Cross Keys Tavern dating back to 1807, and turned hotel management over to Mathias Bartgis in 1826. From reading old newspapers, Dill’s Tavern seemed to be the premiere site for sheriff’s auctions, entertainment events, and organization meetings ranging from bank boards to the county’s Republican Committee to the Frederick Agricultural Club who put on the first cattle shows and fairs. This was even a site of special mayor & alderman meetings, as well as serving as a municipal election precinct.
John Dill married Philipina Krieger, daughter of another tavern owner in town (George Krieger/Creager, Sr. (1752-1815). The couple would have four known children: Joshua (b. 1792), Ezra (b. 1795), James (b. 1799) and Elizabeth (1800-1866). The latter marrying a man named Levin Thomas.
John Dill was civic-minded and served as a roads and street commissioner of town. He continued to own the tavern property throughout his lifetime, but leased it out to others to run. Upon his death in 1841, his will would convey the popular hostelry to his son, Joshua.
Mr. Dill was originally buried in the Evangelical Lutheran burying ground behind the church within two blocks to the east of his tavern. His descendants would move his remains to Mount Olivet on September 20th, 1870. He was buried in Area H/Lot 327. His wife, Philipina, would be reburied here as well on the same day.
At 49 years of age, Joshua Dill had been involved in the hostelry business for a good part of his life. In fact, in addition to gaining experience from his father’s success in the trade, his father-in-law was also a prominent tavern keeper in town. This is a perfect segue to get back on Court Street and continue my ride home.
As I drive over W. Second Street, the street sign says that I’m still on Court Street. The road bed actually widens enough to allow for parking on both sides as I enter this new through-way. Up until the 1930's, this used to be called Kleinhart's Alley, a unique name that has a direct link with the fore-mentioned Dill family.
You see, Joshua Dill (son of the previously mentioned innkeeper John) was married to Mary Kleinhart, the daughter of a Hessian mercenary soldier who was fighting under the British flag during the American Revolution. Johann Franz Kleinhart (born in 1751 in Hesse-Kassel) was likely captured in New Jersey at the Battle of Trenton. This small, but pivotol, battle took place on the morning of December 26th, 1776 in Trenton, New Jersey. After Gen. George Washington's crossing of the Delaware River north of Trenton the previous night, the iconic hero led the main body of the Continental army against Hessian auxiliaries garrisoned here. After a brief battle, almost two-thirds of the Hessian force (800-900) were captured, with only negligible losses to the Americans. The battle significantly boosted the Continental army's waning morale, and inspired re-enlistments.
Kleinhart and other German soldiers were imprisoned at various sites. In his case, Franz Kleinhart would be brought to the Frederick-Town Barracks, a military installation located atop Cannon Hill, today’s site of the Maryland School for the Deaf. The concentration of these German mercenary soldiers led to it receiving the lasting nickname of Hessian Barracks. Kleinhart may have even been involved in constructing the barracks which seems fitting as I have seen a few references to him perhaps possessing talent as a stone mason.
Like several other Hessians in captivity here during the war, Franz, or Francis (as his name would become Anglicized) decided to stay in Frederick once released at the end of the war in 1783. There were plenty of pretty German girls around and Kleinhart married a woman named Maria Salome Weltzheimer. The couple had a son named John Frederick in 1787, and two daughters: Mary Matilda in 1794 and another named Wilhemina in 1799.
Herr Kleinhart operated a tavern on the southside of E. Second Street near the town's early gaol (jail) and later another on W. Third Street. In Rev. Frederick Weiser’s book Frederick Maryland Lutheran Marriages & Burials 1743-1811, I found references to a number of marriages performed at Kleinhart’s Tavern between 1803 and 1805.
In 1827, Maryland newspapers carried the story of a terrible fire at Mr. Kleinhart’s residence in early June, 1826. Reported as the worst fire in Frederick Town up until that time, the blaze started mysteriously in Francis Kleinhart’s stables located along the alley between W. Second and W. Third streets. The fire spread to consume a number of nearby dwellings including that of Klinehart who was sharing his home with daughter Mary and her husband Joshua Dill. Kleinhart's brother-in-law, Dr. Lewis Weltzheimer, lived next door and his apothecary business fell prey to the flames as well.
News of the fire made newspapers all over Maryland including Baltimore and Easton. Frederick’s Jacob Engelbrecht wrote of the “dreadful fire” in his famous diary in an entry on June 1st, 1826. He would have known Mr. Kleinhart quite well as his own father, Conradt Engelbrecht, was also a Hessian soldier held captive at the Frederick Barracks during the Revolutionary War. I was, however, surprised to see the following written on June 3rd, 1826 by the man who seemingly had his finger on the pulse of Frederick:
“Frederick Kleinert, son of Mr. Francis Kleinert was this day brought before the Mayor George Kolb & M. E. Bartgis & George Rohr Esquires on suspicion of being the incendiary of the fire of the 1st instant and after an investigation of 2 or 3 hours was committed to prison to stand his trial at the next County Court. It appeared in evidence that he had threatened to consume the whole fabric owing to some difference between himself and his father bye the bye Fred, is a very bad boy.
PS. Clip & clear not indicted
I don’t know what became of Frederick Kleinhart, but assume that he eventually moved away from the area as I haven’t located a grave or obituary. He married Catherine Wiegle in 1813, and all I have been able to find relating to him is a marriage record and (Engelbrecht) diary notation for his daughter Susan Kleinhart (Faubel). He last appears here locally in the 1840 US Census, apparently living in Frederick.
Francis Kleinhart, alley namesake, died the following year on September 14th, 1827 and was buried in or next to Frederick’s first Presbyterian Church cemetery. This sacred ground was once located by the congregation's meeting house on the southeast corner of N. Bentz and W. Fourth streets. Jacob Engelbrecht made note of his death and added that “he was buried in a vault made by himself for that purpose in his lot adjoining the English Presbyterian graveyard without a ceremony.”
Frederick's original English Presbyterian Church was constructed in 1780 and built of brick and boasted "high backed pews, a lofty pulpit, and a brick floor." A new house of worship was completed in 1825 on W. Second Street, but the original graveyard remained active until 1885, at which time the trustees decided to discontinue use. The old structure was utilized afterwards as part of an old factory until being sold, along with the cemetery ground, to the Salvation Army for $400 in 1887.
Most of the bodies here were removed on May 10th, 1887 and transferred to Mount Olivet. These were originally placed in Area Q, but later moved to Area NN on December 12th, 1907. Among these was the old Hessian Kleinhart, who is said to rest in Lot 131/Grave 11. He doesn’t have a stone, as it likely disappeared along the way, not uncommon as broken or worn stones were seen as unsightly elements here in Frederick’s “Garden Cemetery” back in the day.
Mary Kleinhart Dill and her husband, Joshua, repaired/rebuilt their home and lived on West Third Street until their respective deaths—the house still stands today at 102 W. Third Street. We are lucky to have a bit more info on Joshua thanks to a publication that the cemetery undertook in 2014 with the bicentennial of the War of 1812, entitled Frederick’s Other City: War of 1812 Veterans:
Sergeant Joshua Dill served under Capt. George W. Ent, 3rd Regiment, Maryland Militia, from August 24 to September 30, 1814. Joshua Dill was born September 13, 1792 in Frederick to John (of “Dill House”) and Philippina “Phoebe” (Krieger) Dill. He was married to Mary M. Kleinhart on April 12, 1817 in Frederick. Joshua died July 24, 1868 at the age of 75. He was laid to rest in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Area H/Lot 327. Mary was born March 24, 1794, and died May 14, 1873 at the age of 79. She too was buried in the same lot as her husband.
Joshua held the following positions within Frederick City: A constable in December 1820, May 1825, and June 1833; Deputy Sheriff in October 1821; Lutheran Church warden in January 1824 and an Elder in January 1833, January 1841 and January 1844; a councilman for Ward #6 in February 1834, February 1862 and February 1863. He was the owner of the Cross Keys Hotel, which became known as the Dill House, located southeast of the Courthouse.
Joshua and Mary Dill had six known children. First was John Francis Dill (1819-1891), Lewis Henry Dill (1821-1894), George Theodore Dill (1823-1888), Henrietta Dill Wisong (1826-1872), Dill (1828-1829) and Mary M. Dill Schultz (1830-1861). Here are census records showing Joshua and Mary Kleinhart Dill's family living on W. Third Street:
Joshua Dill parted with his father’s tavern enterprise in the late 1850s, selling it to a Michael Zimmerman who renamed it "Dill House" in honor of the Dill family and their long ownership and earlier operation. The gracious deed seemed to make many in town happy.
The Dills, primarily Joshua, did a great deal of buying and selling of land in and around Frederick City. He had ample opportunity during his terms as sheriff, as people regularly were put in the position of hastily unloading their holdings to pay outstanding debts. The lion’s share of these auctions occurred at the Dill House to boot. Joshua Dill and his children benefited greatly. In his later years, the former sheriff and innkeeper put his efforts toward farming, as he had plenty of parcels to care for.
Joshua Dill died on July 24th, 1868 and wife Mary, daughter of the old Hessian, passed on May 14th, 1873. A notation in our cemetery records says the following:
"REMOVAL from the Dill's Cemetery where he was originally buried on July 25, 1868."
I haven't been able to find a reference to a "Dill's Cemetery" but have a theory that it could be a reference to a plot within or adjacent the Old Presbyterian graveyard where his father-in-law (Francis Kleinhart) was buried. Regardless, Joshua Dill was removed to Mount Olivet and reburied in the Dill family lot on November 24th, 1869. His parents would join him here a year later as previously stated.
Unlike the hotel, the other "Dill House," the home of Joshua and Mary Dill, stayed among the family and descendants until 1979. I found an ad offering the dwelling for by son George and son-in-law Theodore Schultz. Cooler heads must have prevailed, or a relative stepped up with the cash to purchase.
As I pass the old Kleinhart/Dill residence on my right, I cross over W. Third Street and find myself in a "tried and true" portion of virtually unaltered Klineharts Alley.
I can’t travel the alley to its terminus at W. Sixth Street because I’m soon forced to take my first turn of the commute trip home—a left onto W. Fourth Street. In researching for a Frederick-based, Black history documentary project nearly 25 years ago, I learned that many African-American/Black residents lived along Klineharts Alley between W. Fourth and W. Seventh streets. A derogatory moniker of sorts once used as the name for a cluster of dilapidated shanties and shacks that once stood along the alley was Santa Domingo. I don't know if the Blacks here were actually of Haitian origin or not.
The narrow roadway was usually in terrible shape and often flooded, prompting a former mayor's ire and municipal help. I could judge this from an article found in the Frederick News from 1914.
LEG 4 —"Dilly, Dilly"
Once on W. Fourth Street, I soon come to a stoplight at the next cross-street of N. Bentz Street. I won’t get into the name Bentz at this time, but here was another family with deep German roots in town and a namesake mill located at the southern portion of this intersecting roadway at Carroll Creek. A glance to my left toward the southwest corner of the intersection shows me a row of townhouses where the original English Presbyterian Meeting House once stood. Of course this was before the site became home for a number of years to the Salvation Army.
The property sold again and was developed into townhomes on both corners. Francis Kleinhart, and perhaps son-in-law Joshua were once buried in the adjacent church graveyard as I remarked earlier. It all seems to come full circle as I cross Bentz Street and find myself heading west on Dill Avenue. Now where in the world did that name come from? You can guess by now...or you sure as heck better be able to!
The 1873 Titus Atlas clearly shows land parcels owned by Dill. It wouldn’t be until August, 1901 when Frederick alderman John Baumgardner suggested the name of Dill Avenue to replace the W. Fourth Street Extended moniker. It was duly accepted, and the rest is history. As for Lewis Henry Dill, he made his living as a farmer and large landholder thanks to previous generations of “Dill”igent business persons. He’s buried in Mount Olivet's Area G/Lot 32.
Heading northwest out of town, Dill Avenue suddenly becomes Rosemont Avenue once you pass Hood College. The name Rosemont comes from a poultry farm, and later subdivision, of the same name. The neighborhood was laid out in 1913 by Eugene Sponseller and Harry Tritapoe, the latter being the poultry farmer.
Two gentlemen of particular interest in the Rosemont story are Elbridge F. Biggs and John M. Culler, who jointly bought eight building lots here in 1913. Their purchase constituted the entire 1st block of Fairview Avenue, north of the newly named Rosemont Avenue which came with the development.
John McCleary Culler (b.1880), was a grocery store proprietor, and Elbridge F. Biggs, Jr., the switchboard manager for Chesapeake & Potomac (C&P) Telephone Company. In addition to being successful businessmen and civic leaders, this tandem were brothers-in-law as Mr. Culler was married to Mary Ada Biggs, Elbridge’s sister. The Cullers lived on Elm Street and the Biggs took up residence on Fairview Avenue which was the principal street of the Rosemont development, which didn't go any further to the west.
As far as Rosemont avenue, the road had been unofficially called the Montevue Turnpike, a crude translation to French of “Mountain View,” leading to the county almshouse of the same name as mentioned earlier. Rosemont Avenue became the new name as it ran past the new development. The transition between Dill and rosemont avenues occurs at a major bend in the roadway, exactly in front of Hood College's main gate. From a timeline perspective, the college campus here opened in 1913, moving from downtown's Winchester Hall.
The cross streets here along Dill and Rosemont are mostly named for college connections (ie: College Avenue, College Terrace, College Parkway, Hood Alley), scenic vistas like the fore-mentioned Fairview, and trees/plants (ie: Elm Street, Ferndale, Magnolia Ave). A few more exist like Lindbergh and Grove. Lindbergh was named for the heroic aviator, but I don’t know if Grove paid homage to trees, or the local family of the same name. Scottish Alley is a story unto itself as well, and I will leave it alone for now.
However, there is one additional street name that irks me more than any other--Dulaney Street. This is the only tribute we have to the founder of Frederick Town/City and Frederick County. It's more or less an alley, and should be spelled Dulany as this was the way the man spelled his name. The pathetic lane connects Dill Avenue to W. Second Street, running two measly blocks. For God's sake, I've done far less for Frederick over my lifetime, but have a prominent thoroughfare named for me in Christopher's Crossing.
LEG 4 —"Bigg Deal"
As I slowly approach the terminus of W. 2nd Street as it ends in front of Frederick’s oldest home, Schifferstadt, I quickly pass Culler Avenue to my right. I was particularly interested in this street name because my mother lived on this street for a decade back in the 1990s.
I assumed Culler Avenue was named for Lloyd Culler, former mayor. I was mistaken as I have since learned (from my assistant Marilyn) that it was named in honor of John M. Culler, the grocery store owner/Rosemont lot buyer who lived on Elm Street. Sadly, Mr. Culler would die in a car accident in 1935 on MD 26 near Mount Pleasant while returning home from taking his son back to school at Western Maryland College.
The street would be soon named in honor of the former businessman on a 1937 plat for a new subdivision called Rosedale, planned to encompass the Jacob A. Kidwiler property stretching from Fairview Avenue and the Rosemont subdivision, westward to existing Wilson Avenue in Villa Estates which had come about around 1930.
The Rosedale property had been bought in 1931 from Henry Krantz, son of Edward Krantz who owned this property prior. You may remember Edward from another “Story in Stone” written just a few weeks back and entitles "A Statue of Hope". At the time, the purchase (Jacob A. Kidwiler) actually lived on the property where Frederick High School is now located before selling that to the Board of Education in 1938.
Anyway, there was no US15 bypass as yet as this would come in the early 1950s. As I pass by Schifferstadt Architectural Museum and go under the US15 overpass, I soon make an immediate turn right off Rosemont Avenue onto Biggs Avenue. I failed to mention Biggs earlier in my dazzling overview of the roadways of Villa Estates/Rosedale. To tell the truth, I was very interested to learn who the famed namesake was myself. I ride this road nearly every day, and my boys had their elementary school bus stop here.
Well, with help from Marilyn, I learned that Biggs Avenue was named for the other major Rosemont development investor, John M. Culler’s brother-in-law, Elbridge F. Biggs, Jr. It's certainly a further stretch than Mr. Culler by having his name remembered in the form of a street, but no big deal I guess. Or should I say, "No Bigg Dill" instead? As you can see, this commute, albeit short, has made me quite punchy!
Although Mr. Biggs is entombed within the mausoleum at Clustered Spires Cemetery atop Linden Hills, John M. Culler and wife Ada Biggs Culler are buried in Mount Olivet’s Area AA/Lot 2.
We also have buried here Mr. Kidwiler, "the former king of Rosedale" and a Spanish-American War veteran as well. His gravesite is in Area AA/Lot 84, not that far from that of Mr. Culler. I will write a more in-depth piece on him one day, but I learned that his name is the proper one for my neighborhood park as somewhere along the line it had wrongfully been changed to Rosedale Park.
I know this sounds anticlimactic, but my third turn is a left onto Blue Ridge Avenue. It’s a short thoroughfare of two blocks with few speaking points. However, to the left, at the intersection with Schley Avenue, one can gaze at the childhood home of Frederick’s current mayor, Michael O’ Connor. This property (on the southeastern corner of the intersection of Schley and Blue Ridge) was sold out of the family a few years back, after Michael’s dad passed away. Saying this, I’m assuming we won’t see any museum or "mayoral library" placed here in the near future.
I cross Schley and proceed to the next sleepy intersection, where I make my fourth, and final, turn-- a right, onto my home street of Taney Avenue. I won’t get into the story behind that guy, but those who may have read my September 19, 2019 "Stories in Stone" article, know that Roger’s wife, Anne, and three daughters are buried in Mount Olivet. Anne Taney's brother, Francis, also has a nice burial site, complete with an impressive monument up by our front gate.
I hope this story was worth the read, as it surely took far longer to do so than it takes me to drive my daily commute home. Thanks for the company, take care and stay safe!
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Well, April Fools’ Day 2020 has come and gone, and I would surmise that this particular one held the least impact or interest in recent memory. Some sources even reported that it had actually been cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Unfortunately the predicament we have found ourselves in atpresent is the furthest thing from a joke.
I had intended to publish something light and less serious for this week, attempting to make a connection between this unofficial holiday of mischief/”Tom Foolery” and someone buried here at Mount Olivet. I went back in the Frederick newspapers of yore and found mentions of April Fools’ Day (with appropriate exercises) going back to the early decades of the 19th century. After a few hours, I hadn’t found any good matches and decided to “cut bait” and move on to another topic. I had to laugh as I fondly recalled last year’s April Fools’ Day of 2019 in which I helped instigate a creative, and fitting, space-related prank relating to Mount Olivet. I know what you are probably thinking: pranks and cemeteries should never go hand-in-hand for so many reasons. I couldn’t agree more, but my idea was to involve more a play on words than anything else.
I have a co-worker named Meghan who runs our administrative office operation and conducts cemetery sales with customers. In addition to doing a fine job for the cemetery, she prides herself on organization and neatness. Meghan is equally quite particular about the overall care and appearance of her beloved vehicle. I had concocted the perfect April Fools’ scheme with her in mind and even would employ our boss to help me carry it through to fruition. I was going to Francis Scott “Key” my co-worker’s car!
On March 31st, 2019, I meticulously cut out about a dozen small pictures of Francis Scott Key’s head from outdated copies of our self-guided cemetery tour brochure. I put in an envelope and through these in my work bag. The next morning I pulled into our parking lot and alongside my co-workers’ vehicle. I quickly put my devious plan into motion by lightly adhering the cut-outs (each with a small piece of double-sided tape) in a row on the passenger side of her car.
I quickly completed by “decorating” task and went into our office building, undetected. I dropped off my stuff at my desk and then went to see Meghan to deliver the bad news that I had noticed upon pulling in that her vehicle had been “keyed” on its passenger side. Of course, she didn’t believe me when I gently broke the news to her. She sat there determined not to let me rattle her with news of this sort, thinking it a joke. So I quickly invited the superintendent (J. Ronald Pearcey) to go out for a look, and report his findings to Meghan. He obliged, and, upon return to her office, reported the honest truth that her sparkling white car had indeed been “keyed.” She sprang from her desk in an instant, making her way to the parking lot to see with her own eyes the dastardly deed done to her precious car.
Of course, the anxiety and extreme panic quickly subsided when she saw the ridiculous, temporary graffiti in the form of “Star-Spangled” micro-heads of our most cemetery’s most famous resident. The three of us got a good laugh out of that one, and I made amends by gladly buying that day’s lunch for both my prank accomplice (Ron) and most of all, hapless victim (Meghan).
It was nice to think back this week, as this years’ April Fools’ Day seemed as surreal as these last few weeks. I quickly tried to spin my mind with the hope of normalcy returning far in advance of next April 1st (2021), and started scheming on how I could top Francis Scott "Key-ing” a car? Perhaps I can somehow incorporate novelty itching powder and Barbara Fritchie to create the dreaded Fritch Itch--“Scratch if you must this irritable itch, but spare your country’s flag.” Just kidding of course, as I don’t think any of us will be in the mood for pranks anytime soon after we finally get through this pandemic.
“This Too Shall Pass”
The following story may well strike a sensitive nerve with some readers, but my intent is not to scare, sensationalize or depress. We have enough anxiety and bad news to sort through these days as we find ourselves in a situation no one could have predicted a year ago, or even just a few short months ago when we were enjoying the Christmas holiday season.
We are a few weeks into self-quarantining and the practice of “social distancing,” a term that has quickly entered into our vernacular, almost overnight. I have seen articles that the proper term should be “spatial distancing,” because with smartphone and computer technology still readily at our disposal despite Covid-19, we continue to have the means to easily communicate with friends, families, co-workers and complete strangers (for that matter) with the touch of a button. Familiar voices can be heard, and faces seen, no matter the geographic distance apart, whether its 6 feet, or 600 miles.
It’s along these lines that I write this particular story as a “compare and contrast” exercise. It can be fully illustrated by local and national history with the over-arching message of: “This too will pass.” The familiar adage (“This too will pass”) comes originally from Persia—that Western Asia country we know better today by the name Iran. The quote has been translated and used in multiple languages and reflects on the temporary nature, or ephemerality, of the human condition. The general sentiment has often been expressed in wisdom literature throughout history and across cultures, although the specific phrase seems to have originated in the writings of the medieval Persian poets.
I found that “This too shall pass” is known in the Western world primarily due to a 19th-century retelling of a Persian fable called “Solomon’s Seal” by the English poet Edward FitzGerald. In it, a sultan requests of King Solomon a sentence that would always be true in good times or bad; Solomon responds, "This too will pass away.”
The expression was popularized here in the United States over a century-and-a-half ago when featured in a speech by Abraham Lincoln in September, 1859 and before he became the sixteenth President of the United States. Honest Abe could have obtained the adage from an early English citation of "this too shall pass" which appeared in an article titled "The Revolutions in Europe", and featured in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, in May, 1848:
When an Eastern sage was desired by his sultan to inscribe on a ring the sentiment which, amidst the perpetual change of human affairs, was most descriptive of their real tendency, he engraved on it the words : — "And this, too, shall pass away." It is impossible to imagine a thought more truly and universally applicable to human affairs than that expressed in these memorable words, or more descriptive of that perpetual oscillation from good to evil, and from evil to good, which from the beginning of the world has been the invariable characteristic of the annals of man, and so evidently flows from the strange mixture of noble and generous with base and selfish inclinations, which is constantly found in the children of Adam.
I don’t mean to wax poetic, but surely will do so while I have you kept captive, likely in the confines of your own home at the present time of my writing. Here are three poignant quotes, or aphorisms, to reflect upon in the restless days, weeks and possibly months ahead:
“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
-George Santayana (1863-1952)
“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”
-Maya Angelou (1928-1914)
“What is history? An echo of the past in the future; a reflex from the future on the past.”
-Victor Hugo (1802-1885)
This last passage has particularly resonated with me for a number of years as I even use it on the home page of my side ”history for hire” business entitled History Shark Productions. I had the rare opportunity to stay in his Paris residence of Place des Vosges back in 2003, and also visit his burial crypt within The Pantheon (Paris). Victor Hugo is one of the greatest French writers to have lived, and gave us such notable works as his novels Les Miserables (1862) and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame (1831). This gentlemen was at the forefront of the Romantic era, an intellectual movement characterized by its emphasis on emotion and individualism as well as glorification of all the past and nature.
As this is a highly emotional, nervous and troubling time we live in at the moment, we need to heed the echoes of the past. This is something that seems to consume me each and every week in writing “Stories in Stone,” and I can honestly say that there has nothing that has been so self-gratifying and rewarding in my thirty-year professional career. I feel as if I have had the chance to personally meet my subjects, the majority of which dwell beneath the grounds surface with a memorial periscope in the form of a tombstone. With that knowledge, I’m able to see my surrounding hometown as a form of continual reflex from these past residents, just as the Hugo quote shared illustrates.
Back in the fall of 2018, I busily published articles, presented talks and gave walking tours based on research I was conducting on the nearly 600 World War I veterans buried here in Mount Olivet. One of the most enlightening experiences for me was studying the deaths of five servicemen who died as a result of the Spanish Influenza pandemic of 1918.
Frederick, and her past residents, experienced the uncertainties associated with several wars ranging from world conflicts to the American Civil War, when fighting and massive casualties actually came to their doorsteps. All the while, terrible diseases and illnesses such as cholera, typhoid and smallpox were commonplace due to unsanitary conditions and lack of advanced healthcare methods.
The 1918 Spanish Flu was the perfect combination of both war and disease. It was a global pandemic during a global war. While the enemy was somewhat visible to the American doughboys fighting in the trenches of France, the invisible flu waged war “over there,” and quickly made its way “over here” to the chagrin of all. Today, we are experiencing a similar war against the virus, luckily not man at the same time.
In recent weeks we have had to socially distance our cemetery staff from visitors and customers alike for the safety of staff. This is so very hard for members of a profession that is built upon having the utmost compassion for those needing our services and visiting our grounds—all made possible by the greatest unwelcome visitor of all, the coronavirus. We don’t have to look far to find answers from the past. Less than 102 years ago, our newspapers read like that of our tv, laptop and smartphone screens of today.
The earlier “unwelcome visitor” understandably had then cemetery superintendent, Albert Routzahn, unnerved, along with his faithful staff. As far as Mount Olivet Cemetery is concerned, the first documented civilian fatality of the Spanish Flu was Mrs. Bessie G. Jones, a 33-year-old housewife from Buckeystown, MD. Mrs. Jones passed on September 28th, 1918.
The next day, George Jacob Cronise of Mount Pleasant would die as his in-laws were suffering from flu symptoms. A day later, a broom-maker named John H. F. Bender would be claimed as a victim and buried in Mount Olivet. Bender, age 60, was also from Buckeystown. Yet another resident from the same town of Buckeystown would help usher in funerals during the horrific month of October, 1918. Thirty-year-old Sallie Elizabeth Barber expired on October 2nd.
The other day, I decided to read over our death ledgers and interment registers from the fall of 1918. I became interested in Frederick City’s first victim of the flu, and buried in Mount Olivet. This individual was named Marshall Howard Zepp, Jr., a 21-year-old electrician who worked for the Hagerstown & Frederick Railway. Young Mr. Zepp died on the fourth of October.
Marshall Howard Zepp’s mortal remains were buried two days later in Area T/Lot 130 in the middle of the cemetery—dare I say, the “dead center?” I can say this with surety, because Area T, was virtually a dead center as 40 people were interred here as a result of the Spanish Flu. Meanwhile, cemetery superintendent Ron Pearcey decided to carefully inspect the Spanish Flu victims buried here by studying the interment cards themselves. As is the case today, many people with underlying health conditions were more susceptible to not only contracting the Spanish Influenza, but becoming a fatality because of it. Ron also studied the severity of pneumonia in olden days, pandemic or not. With physicians seeing this malady for the first time, pneumonia was given as cause of death because of like symptoms.
I wrote a story focusing on World War I soldiers as victims of the crippling pandemic of 1918. This occurred in early October of 2018 and was entitled “No Ordinary Flu Season.” In that piece, I counted 93 Spanish Influenza-related victims buried here in Mount Olivet from late September (1918) through January(1919). Superintendent Ron came up with 98 victims, and we were able to prove two more cases should be added to our total. I will tell you about it here shortly. Regardless, that brings our tally up to 100 Spanish Flu victims buried in Mount Olivet.
Ron and I also predict that the number of Spanish Influenza deaths/burials will rise if we closely research the other interments that took place here during that period. We can do this by looking at medical complications, listed as causes of death in our records, and consider the “cause and effect “relationship to the Spanish Flu. In addition, pneumonia presents a complicated “sticky-wicket.” Ron researched deaths by pneumonia over the previous year’ late September through January timespan of the pandemic and found a grand total of nine deaths related to the respiratory illness—one that is usually brought on by cold or flu. Regardless, the number gave us a benchmark.
One Lonely Cart Row
Cart rows are useful cemetery thoroughfares—for both workers and visitors alike. These lanes represent linear “no bury zones” and extend through cemetery sections as a means for employees to bring necessary digging and lifting equipment to individual gravesites. This is particularly useful over time when an area fills up so to speak, and obstacles in the form of granite and marble monuments create challenges to reach a specific lot. Just imagine trying to get a mechanized digging apparatus like a backhoe into the center of a section crowded with grave monuments. Even in the early days of Mount Olivet, monument vendors utilized horse and wagon to carry gravestones to be placed on burial sites. The cart rows were invaluable to them in giving needed access.
From the visitor perspective, I myself can get easily lost when seeking a specific grave, even with coordinates and a trusty cemetery map in hand. I always advise visitors and family historians seeking a specific site to take note of the cart rows on the maps, and use these as a helpful guide in finding their desired destinations.
Looking at Ron Pearcey’s research numbers, Area T boasted 40 Spanish Flu related interments—40% of the cemetery’s total. Along the particular cart row in question, one can find 25 Spanish Flu victims (25% of Mount Olivet’s total). There are 30 individual (“ten-grave”) family lots laid out along the grassy transportation corridor. Of these, 19 include one or more flu interments from the fall/winter of 1918-1919.
The chart below shows the incredible spike in burials here at Mount Olivet in late 1918. A monthly average of 21(burials for the first 9 months of the year) skyrocketed to 77 in October.
The Year 1918 and Burials in Mount Olivet Cemetery
Jan Feb Mar April May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
18 14 23 19 14 35 17 19 25 77 27 40
By the 8th of October, 1918, flu cases had become so prevalent that the state health board ordered county health officer Dr. T.C. Routson to immediately close all schools, churches, theaters, pool halls and other places where the public may gather. This again was 11 days after the first reported death on September 27th.
Between September 27th and October 31st, related deaths attributed to the influenza included five servicemen and 51 civilians, making a grand total of 56 individuals laid to rest in Mount Olivet over the period. Using the typical average of 21 burials/month, this was the equivalent of two-and-a half to nearly three additional months of burials that the cemetery was burdened with in October, 1918. Keep in mind that this was a time where graves were still primarily dug by hand.
Ron relayed to me a story about that particular October told to him by a former South Market Street resident by the name of Melvin Engle. He vividly remembered the cemetery bell atop the superintendent’s house tolling almost non-stop. Of course, the bell was used to toll for the deceased and signified the funeral cortege’s entrance into the cemetery back in the day. You may remember the old expression: “For whom the bell tolls?”
In my former story, I included a list of the first 20 Spanish Influenza victims buried here in Mount Olivet Cemetery, along with their respective hometowns, ages and occupations. Here is a list of the 25 individuals that can be found along the “lonely cart row” on the south end of Area T:
9/29/1918 George Jacob Cronise 23 Farmer Mount Pleasant Area T/123
9/30/1918 John H. F. Bender 60 Broommaker Buckeystown Area T/124
9/30/1918 George Grover Sanders, Jr. 25 WW I Soldier Frederick Area T/126
10/4/1918 Marshall Howard Zepp, Jr. 21 Electrician Frederick Area T/130
10/6/1918 Franklin Luther Staley 26 WW I Soldier Shookstown Area T/131
10/8/1918 John Ridenour, Jr. 28 Baker Virginia Area T/131
10/10/1918 Anna E. Metz 5 N/A Frederick Area T/133
10/11/1918 Mary G. Metz 25 Housewife Frederick Area T/133
10/10/1918 Harry N. Garrett 26 Munition Plant Baltimore Area T/132
10/13/1918 Della Irene Angleberger 37 Housewife Mt Pleasant Area T/123
10/13/1918 George Frederick Strailman 27 Blacksmith Frederick Area T/122
10/14/1918 Marguerite E. Redmond 6 N/A Frederick Area T/120
10/15/1918 Pauline Virginia Woerner 12 N/A Frederick Area T/133
10/18/1918 Helena G. Delaughter 4 N/A Frederick Area T/134
10/18/1918 Leslie F. Selby 27 WW I Soldier Frederick Area T/141
10/20/1918 William Denis Covell 42 Day Laborer Baltimore Area T/142
10/24/1918 Cora Leona Oden 6 mos N/A Frederick Area T/130
10/26/1918 John William Poole 39 Park Manager Braddock Hghts Area T/140
10/27/1918 Edgar John Mossburg 25 Laborer Buckeystown AreaT/124
10/27/1918 Niona Gearinger 22 City Hospital Frederick AreaT/145
11/7/1918 Carrollton L Zimmerman 8 mos N/A Frederick Area T/147
12/4/1918 Bessie Wittler 41 Housewife Frederick AreaT/129
12/20/1918 Madora Adams 2 mos N/A Pittsburgh Area T/144
1/10/1919 Arthur S Basford 20 Machinist Alexandria VA Area T/134
1/14/1919 Emma May Shaw 23 Housewife Frederick Area T/136
Local industries such as Frederick Iron & Steel, the Ox-Fibre Brush Company and the Union Knitting Mills were hit hard with many employees having to go out on sick leave. Several store-keepers wisely kept their doors closed as well. Controlling the spread of this epidemic was a difficult task, but social distancing and self-quarantine efforts back then “flattened the curve” as they say.
Interestingly, senior citizens fared much better against the Spanish Influenza than those 20-40 years of age. Using the 25% sample of those listed in the above chart, one can see that there is only one individual above 42 years of age (John H. F. Bender-age 60). Conversely, the majority of victims here, 17 in number, are between ages 20-42. This is the complete opposite of today’s Covid-19 pandemic.
I recall my former research on the 1918 flu and being fascinated with the cancellation of the annual Great Frederick Fair (formerly held in mid-October) in an effort to curb the spread of the disease, and save lives. In the last month, we, ourselves, have seen all sporting events, concerts, and special events follow suit the same way.
During the remainder of the October, 1918, 48 other souls had gone to early graves in Mount Olivet thanks to the Spanish Influenza outbreak. The high-water mark having been reached by mid-month, cases waned by month’s end. Health Officer Routson even placed a temporary ban on church funeral services. Most interesting of all, then Frederick Mayor Lewis H. Fraley and the Frederick Board of Alderman reinstated a ban on public spitting, referred to formally as “expectorating.” Violators would be fined $1.00 for each instance. Apparently, this just wasn’t restricted to spitting on city streets, as there had been a running problem with riders doing this on the floors of the local trolleys. The earlier mentioned Marshall Zepp was an electrician working for the electric railway. Could he have been felled by a careless placement of saliva?
Speaking of Frederick’s trolley system, there is a unique “roundabout” connection to one of Area T’s Spanish Influenza victims that I just learned about this past week by pure coincidence. It relates to a gentleman name John William Poole.
John William Lorenzo Poole
Earlier this week, I received a phone call from a member of our “Friends of Mount Olivet” preservation and social group named Betty DeColigny. I’ve known Betty for over a decade now, first meeting her through by involvement with the Francis Scott Key Memorial Foundation. Betty is a direct descendant of the national anthem author, and one-time “car graffitist” through her mother, Elizabeth Poole Remsburg, a former Middletown native, schoolteacher and local history lover. Betty is recently widowed and spending her days in a senior community in the Randallstown area of northwest Baltimore County.
Anyway, she called to say that she had some local genealogy resources that she found going through some boxes while in quarantine, and asked if she could send them along to me for use. We got to talking, and I brought up the fact that I had recently seen an old newspaper article involving her mother at Braddock Heights in one of my research jaunts. This led to Betty telling me that her mother had grown up at Braddock, solely because her parents were one-time managers of the former amusement park once located atop Catoctin Mountain.
For those not familiar with the story of the Braddock Heights settlement, here’s a brief backstory. In 1896, a local man named George William Smith helped organize the Frederick & Middletown Street Railway in an effort to aid farmers to get their products such as milk, wheat, produce, etc. to the county seat of Frederick and further destinations via train if necessary. The trolley could also deliver supplies, groceries, furniture outward from the county’s largest commercial center and rail depot of Frederick.
Another use of the trolley was passenger transport and this became a boon to the ensuing era of suburbanization that was also aided by the innovation of the automobile. Commuters began to travel between Frederick and Middletown with relative ease. Mr. Smith quickly realized the potential in Braddock Heights, with its wondrous views of the surrounding countryside.
The trolley was run by electricity, a modern marvel that brought so many changes to life at the turn of the 19th century. The electricity from the rail line could be used at the Braddock Heights location for an amusement park and other attractions such as a casino, swimming pool, observation tower and playhouse. A surrounding colony of cottages and the sizeable Braddock Hotel soon made Braddock a premiere summer destination for affluent Frederick residents and tourists alike. The trolley company expanded to Hagerstown and eventually took the name of the Potomac Edison Company.
In her book Braddock Heights: A Glance Backward, author Anne B. Hooper describes the job duties of the position which included a residence on the park grounds:
“Up a little and back from the casino building was the park manager’s home. These men and women who worked to make the park thrive over the years became familiar figures to visitors and local residents. In the spring it was their responsibility to clear the park of leaves, fix the gravel roadways and paint the benches, swings, and buildings. During the season they cleaned up the litter left by picnickers and generally saw that things operated smoothly. In the fall they prepared the property for winter. Cap Stine, the first manager, was succeeded by John W. Poole.”
Sadly, John William Lorenzo Poole was a victim of the Spanish Flu in late October, 1918. Death records also show that he had meningitis at the time of his passing.
In his absence, Mr. Poole’s wife, Elizabeth “Bessie” Mae (Feaga) Poole took over her late husband’s park duties. She was assisted by her son Charles, daughter Elizabeth and nephew, Ed Poole. The Pooles would continue in this role until 1934, at which time, Ed Poole stayed on as park manager until 1946.
Bessie died in 1962 and Charles in 2005. The Pooles are buried in Area T’s Lot 140, originally purchased by Mr. R. Paul Smith, Superintendent of the Hagerstown and Frederick Railway Company. Betty’s mother Elizabeth lived to be 101, dying in 2007.
The Red Cross was mobilized throughout the land. In Frederick, they took over the entire fourth floor of the county’s Montevue Hospital for the sole purpose of caring for patients suffering from the malady that came from “Over There.” The local newspaper did its part with informing readers on how to best recognize and deal with flu symptoms. I also found a small article showing that Montevue's most famous physician was no stranger to the Spanish Influenza.
I was curious to learn about another flu victim buried within ten yards of the fore-mentioned John Poole. This was 22 year-old Niona Gearinger. Niona’s death certificate states that she died the day after Poole on October 27th, 1918 and was a resident of 220 East Sixth Street in Frederick City. The daughter of Jacob Russell and Bertha (Legore) Gearinger interested me due to her occupation at the time of death was that of an employee of Frederick City Hospital.
I’d like to think that Niona was among the brave workers who willingly put their own health and lives in harm’s way while caring for their fellow man at the hospital. Here, she would have been surrounded by other residents ailing from the Spanish Influenza. Unfortunately, I cannot prove that postulate. All I could really find on Niona was that she was born on August 15th, 1896 in Pennsylvania, likely Dauphin County as her mother was from Middletown, (PA.) Her father was also a Pennsylvania native and performed odd jobs. In 1900, the family can be found living in Sharpsburg but moved to Creagerstown sometime before 1910. Niona was the oldest of six children.
I did learn from newspapers that Niona suffered from the grippe (flu) in 1911, but fully recovered. They did a hatchet job on her first name, however it was worthy enough to make the publication, it must have been somewhat serious. Perhaps this was a contributing factor to her death seven years later (compromised immune system)?
The Gearingers were soon residing in Frederick. In 1912, her father suffered a work injury when a piece of steel entered his eye. Local efforts could not remove the foreign object and all feared that he would lose his eye and vision. He was sent to a hospital in Baltimore that employed a large magnet to successfully pull the piece of metal out of Mr. Gearinger’s eye.
A few years later, Niona’s father was in the papers again. This time, the content involved a court case in early 1917 in which Jacob R. Gearinger was the plaintiff in a mugging case in which he was struck from behind by his assailant and robbed of 50 cents. He won the assault and battery case and was awarded $500. He joined his daughter in Mount Olivet’s Area T/Lot 145 just over a decade later upon his death in 1929.
Things slowly got back to normal in November, 1918 but the battle against the influenza was not over yet. Twenty-two more residents would die of the flu in November and December, 1918. Another 13 people would succumb in January of 1919, before the influenza pandemic finally dissipated in our area. It was something that had never been seen before, and thought not to be seen again.
All in all, there would be roughly 2,000 cases of the deadly Spanish Influenza in Frederick County in 1918-1919. Of these, 200 were fatal. This translates to Mount Olivet being the final resting place to half of the county’s victims. Diligence, patience and perseverance were practiced by local officials, business owners and the citizens themselves to keep this number from being far worse. Proof is all around in Mount Olivet as thousands residing in our cemetery today that lived during that troubling time have a death date other than 1918 or 1919 carved upon their gravestone.
Unfortunately, we as residents of Frederick are living through another pandemic of magnificent proportion. We need to learn from history and those former generations buried in Mount Olivet who, if they could, would surely tell us to use caution, be vigilant, stay optimistic and don't leave the cart row…….. as “This too shall pass.”
Here are a few more of the grave monuments honoring victims of the 1918 Spanish Influenza pandemic who are in proximity to "the lonely cart row" mentioned in the story.