This week’s subject is Matilda Shawbaker. In the early 1920’s up to her death in 1924, she held the distinction of being the oldest woman in Frederick County, and “oldest-living war widow.” Then for many years following, she would be the eldest female laid to rest in Mount Olivet. Maybe not the most flattering of accomplishments, but her extended age brought along with it plenty of notoriety.
Matilda Shawbaker was a German immigrant, and married the son of an earlier German immigrant to the area. Her father-in-law was, however, an “accidental tourist” to Frederick, not coming here of his own volition. Yyou could say the army brought him here, both literally and figuratively—just another one of several military ties in the storied life of Matilda Shawbaker.
Mrs. Shawbaker’s name jumped out at me, as I had once interviewed her great-grandson back in 1994 for a historical video documentary called Frederick Town. The gentleman was Mr. William E. Main, and he made mention of his “great-grandmother Shawbaker” on more than a few occasions within the course of our on-camera discussion. I had forgotten all about this “history connection” until recently preparing notes for a “Frederick in the 1700’s” course I was hired to teach based on the documentary I had produced 20 + years back.
In this course we covered the genesis of Frederick-Town, the brainchild of Annapolis businessman/politician/land speculator Daniel Dulany. We also explored the area’s subsequent growth and rise in importance thanks to hearty, industrious settlers who melded cultures to create the special place we call home today. Among these early residents were “Old-Line” English and Scots-Irish families from southern Maryland, Dutch colonists from the area of Kingston, New York, and Germans from the southeastern part of William Penn’s colony.
We also had several German immigrants who came directly from the “Vaterland” without original intent to settle in a town (and county) named for the German-born prince, Frederick , a man who would never get his chance to wear the bejeweled crown as monarch of Great Britain. Yes, Frederick is named for Frederick Louis, Prince of Wales, son of King George II, and father of King George III. The latter was the same guy our 12 immortal Frederick County justices defied with their November 23rd, 1765 Repudiation of the Stamp Act. Eight years later, George III would be incensed by an infamous “tea party” in Boston, and then a major “declaration” in Philadelphia in 1776. These three events centered on the fundamental problem of taxation without representation.
In my assessment, I can think of a handful of things worse than taxation that our early settlers and immigrants had to deal with during the 1700’s. Old World situations such as political tyranny, oppression of the masses, depressed economies, religious persecution, starvation and enemy attacks served as fodder for folks to leave their ancestral homes and brave crossing the Atlantic. Once here, they had to embrace a plethora of other hardships–but apparently “the juice was worth the squeeze,” a favorite proverb often quipped by a beloved former boss of mine. Germans would continue to come to America in the 1800’s for several of the same reasons they came in the previous century. One of these was Matilda Kiefer (Shawbaker).
Matilda Kiefer (also spelled Keefer) was born in Bavaria on September 7th, 1820. According to a newspaper interview in 1922, she never knew where actually in Bavaria she was actually from. After the death of her mother in Germany, Matilda’s father, Adam Kiefer, brought his children to the United States around 1831 and settled in Frederick County in the Buckeystown District. He likely could have come to live amongst relatives already here in the area, as the Keifer/Keefer family operated a mill at a location in between present day Ballenger Creek Pike, and New Design Road—on the Ballenger Creek itself (east of Tuscarora High School).
Adam Kiefer promptly remarried and young Matilda became well-versed in home endeavors and excelled as a seamstress. From Jacob Engelbrecht’s diary, I found that the Kiefer’s lived in the vicinity of St. Josephs-on-Carrollton Manor Church. On March 10, 1837, Matilda’s stepmother, Adelia Kiefer, died. Three days later, Matilda’s father Adam died. (I found an online record in the Frederick Equity records showing that neighbor George Thomas became guardian for Matilda’s step-sisters (Adelia) Margaret and Sophia).
On Christmas Eve, 1844, Matilda married George Shawbaker, a man 15 years her elder. Shawbaker was a native-born American, but the son of a former German mercenary soldier who did not come to the country with the purpose of staying. To tell the truth, he was even less keen on becoming a member of the military in the first place. He wasn’t alone as there were countless countrymen just like him who were forced to enter into mercenary fighting, an unfortunate dilemma which beset many native German people in Europe at the time of the American Revolution.
A mercenary is a person who takes part in an armed conflict who is not a national, or party to the conflict and is "motivated to take part in the hostilities by desire for private gain.” Mercenaries generally fight for money or other recompense instead of fighting for ideological interests, whether they agree with or are against the existing government. The taxes levied on the 13 colonies in the years preceding the American Revolution were a result of Great Britain desiring compensation for their role in protection (of the colonies) during the French and Indian War (1754-1763). In this supposed “seven-year” affair, the bulk of the leaders were British subjects, however, the majority of front-line soldiers were from Ireland and Scotland—mercenary soldiers.
The British government found that it was easier to borrow money and hire an army from elsewhere than recruit and raise it themselves from their own loyal populous. The situation would be repeated just over a decade later in the American Revolution and brings to mind a well-versed term in Frederick lore and history—“Hessian.” The strange noun turned adjective has adorned our colonial-era Frederick Barracks (located on the grounds of the Maryland School for the Deaf) since the early 1780’s. This was the time when Hessians began populating the prison garrison, as well as Frederick, but certainly not by desire and design at first.
The term "Hessians" refers to the approximately 30,000 German troops hired by the British to help fight during the American Revolution. They were principally drawn from the German state of Hesse-Cassel, although soldiers from other German states also saw action in America. King George II, son Frederick (Prince of Wales) and grandson George III hailed from the House of Hanover, a German royal dynasty that ruled the Electorate and then the Kingdom of Hanover. This powerful bloodline provided the ruling monarchs of Great Britain, Ireland and the United Kingdom until the death of Queen Victoria in 1901.
The Hessians made up one-quarter of the troops the British sent to America. They usually entered the British service as entire units, and fought under their own German flags, commanded by their usual officers, and wearing their existing uniforms. The largest contingent came from the state of Hesse, which supplied about 40% of the German troops who fought for the British. The large number of troops from Hesse-Kassel led to the use of the term Hessians to refer to all German troops fighting on the British side. The others were rented from other small German states.
Many of these men were pressed into Hessian service. Deserters were summarily executed or beaten by an entire company. Traditionally, the Hessian prisoners of war were put to work on local farms, as was the case with many who would be marched to Frederick for captivity after the battles of Saratoga and Yorktown. They were oftentimes loosely guarded and worked on local farms (owned by German immigrants or the children of German immigrants). German culture and tradition abounded, as did the language which is said to have been more commonly spoken in the streets of Frederick than English into the early 1800’s. There was also an abundance of attractive German farmer’s daughters and German craftsmen’s daughters as well. Couple this with crappy conditions back home and the real possibility of being sold back into military service by royal forces, and Frederick, Maryland looked like a very inviting prospect for a new lease on life.
One of these Hessians was Adam Shawbaker (aka Schabaker, Schawacker, Showacre, Showbaker, Shouhoker, Shawacker). Adam was born around 1749 in Hesse-Kasssel. He fought for the Hessian forces under the British and was captured at the Battle of Yorktown in the fall of 1781. Adam would be brought to Frederick and imprisoned in the barracks here. He was released in April, 1783 by paying 83 Spanish dollars which allowed him to remain in America. Much of the money to do this came from local German families as a means of building the labor force, and/or keeping daughters happy. Adam met Anna Barbara Schnautiegel and married her on February 7th, 1787. Adam settled in Frederick Town, but appears to have moved to the Middletown area as some of his children were baptized at the Lutheran church there. He would have three sons (Adam, Jacob and George) and a daughter (Maria Barbara).
Private George Shawbaker served in the 3rd Regiment, Maryland Militia, under Captain George W. Ent from August 24th to September 30th, 1814. It would be 30 years before he married Matilda. The couple had seven children:
George William Shawbaker (1846 - 1869)
Jacob Michael Shawbaker (1848 - 1924)
Mary Matilda Shawbaker (1850-1853)
Margaret Elizabeth (Shawbaker) Meyer (1853 - 1928)
Ann Matilda ("Alice") Shawbaker (1859-1918)
The family resided for some time in the same place that George’s father called home when he was brought to Frederick in the fall of 1781—the Hessian Barracks. This was sometime in the 1850s through 1860s when the barracks grounds also served home to the Frederick County Cattle Show and Agricultural Exhibition, known today as the Great Frederick Fair. The county-wide livestock gala and craft fair was the brainchild of the Farmers Club, soon to change its name to the Frederick County Agricultural Society. The first edition of this annual event commenced in October of 1853.
The Shawbakers may likely have been caretakers of the grounds during this period. In the 1860 census, George is listed as a plasterer, and it is a good bet that he performed restorations on the barracks originally built to quarter enemy soldiers—such as his own father nearly 75 years earlier. Matilda stuck to her household duties and child rearing, all the while making time for her favorite pastime of knitting, needlework and crocheting.
On one occasion, she was approached by the Agricultural Exhibition’s Board of Managers to make a large US flag to fly above the barracks during the next year’s event. She obliged and was paid in the form of getting to keep the surplus material. With this, she made her own flag. Matilda’s great-grandson recounted a story of this flag to me back in 1994. He said that Matilda and her family prized the flag, especially in the years immediately after it was made. The Agricultural Exhibition was put on hold from 1862-1867 due to the American Civil War. The Shawbakers were ardent Unionists and Matilda and George’s son George W, followed in his father’s steps by fighting to preserve the Union. He was only 17, when he joined Company E of the 7th Maryland Regiment.
Matilda’s flag had to be hidden on more than one occasion as large contingents of the Confederate Army overtook Frederick in September of 1862 (battles of South Mountain and Antietam), and again in July 1864 (Battle of Monocacy). Matilda secured her flag in the ashes of her “ten plate” stove during one of these events. Another time, she buried the standard in her garden plot where she marveled as soldiers practically walked over top of it.
Son George W. Shawbaker made it through the war, although he was wounded at the Battle of the Wilderness in May of 1864. Complications from these injuries led to an early death in 1869, at the age of 22.
Matilda’s brother Nicholas Kiefer also fought for the Union, but died while in captivity at Libby Prison in Richmond. Another brother, George Kiefer, actually fought for the Confederacy.
The flag Matilda had made would be handed down in the family to future generations. Its special importance was renewed in 1917 when the United States went to war against Matilda’s native country of Germany. She would have five grandsons participating in this heartbreaking “world war.”
Matilda passed on March 7th, 1924, having reached the age of 103 years and 6 months. She was buried next to her husband and her first four children in the family lot at Mount Olivet (Area L/Lot 152).
Many Fredericktonians claim descendancy from this unique wave of German immigrants that chose to stay in Frederick after their imprisonment during the American Revolution. It’s a great story, and one that brought Independence and freedom to more than just American colonists. It’s also amazing trace a family like George and Matilda Shawbaker’s that were so eager to fight in future conflicts to keep and preserve that independence for the “land of the free.” All the while, these individuals had the knowledge that their ancestor, Adam Schabacker, was forced to fight in a war that offered him nothing more than a paycheck.
Mr. William E. Main continued the legacy through distinguished service in World War II, followed by a career with the Army. He enlisted in Company "A," 115th Infantry, in November 1940 and in April 1942 entered the Infantry Officer Candidate School at Ft. Benning, Georgia. After being commissioned in July 1942, he served in the 309th Infantry, 78th Division, at Camp Butner, North Carolina, until ordered overseas in 1943, where he served in the China-Burma-India Theater, on the staff of Gen. Joseph Stillwell, and as a Liaison Officer to the Chinese Army until the end of World War II. He participated in the release and repatriation of American, British and Dutch P.O.W.s from the Japanese Prison Camp at Mukden Manchuria.
Mr. Main was employed by the Department of the Army as a Nuclear Weapons Effects Analyst and Strategic Planner from 1950 until his retirement in 1974. He served from 1951 until 1965 with the 163rd Military Police Battalion of the District of Columbia National Guard, as a Company Commander, Battalion Operations Officer and Battalion Executive Officer. William E. Main also donated Matilda’s flag to the City of Frederick, where it is displayed on the second floor of City Hall.
I want to conclude with an interesting finding. The laws of Germany today say that it is an offense "to recruit" German citizens "for military duty in a military or military-like facility in support of a foreign power.” Furthermore, a German who enlists in an armed force of a state that he or she is not a citizen, risks the loss of his or her citizenship.
George Washington gave this message to his Continental Army soldiers before the first major engagement of the Revolutionary War, the Battle of Long Island:
“Remember, officers and Soldiers, that you are Freemen … Remember how your Courage and Spirit have been despised, and traduced by your cruel invaders, though they have found by dear experience at Boston, Charlestown and other places, what a few brave men contending in their own land, and in best of causes can do, against base hirelings and mercenaries.”
“Home Sweet Home” means different things to different people. In researching the origin of this popular expression, I found roots lying with a popular song dating back to 1823. "Home, Sweet Home" is a song adapted from American actor and dramatist John Howard Payne's 1823 opera Clari, or the Maid of Milan. The song's melody was composed by Englishman Sir Henry Bishop with lyrics by Payne.
Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam
Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home
A charm from the skies seems to hallow us there
Which seek thro' the world, is ne'er met elsewhere
Sweet, sweet home!
There's no place like home
There's no place like home!
An exile from home splendor dazzles in vain
Oh give me my lowly thatched cottage again
The birds singing gaily that came at my call
And gave me the peace of mind dearer than all
Home, home, sweet, sweet home
There's no place like home, there's no place like home!
Interest in the song was strong in both Great Britain as well as the United States. When published separately, “Home, Sweet Home” quickly sold 100,000 copies, making considerable profits for both publishing companies and the producers of the opera. Soon, the song would be performed publicly by stage entertainers and in school-related concerts and recitals. In 1852 Henry Bishop "relaunched" the song as a parlor ballad, and it became very popular in the United States throughout the American Civil War and after.
In this week’s piece, I’d like to introduce readers to a branch of a family that obviously cherished Frederick, Maryland as “Home, Sweet Home” for a final resting place. Their surname of Johnson is synonymous with not only Frederick, but Maryland as well. Residing in various places around the country, several bodies were brought back to a newly created family plot in Mount Olivet in the year 1915.
Dr. James Thomas Johnson (Jr.) was born June 26th, 1831 in Port Tobacco, Charles County, Maryland. He was the son of James Thomas Johnson and Emily Newman, and a great-grandson of Roger Johnson (1749-1831). You may recall that Roger Johnson was the one-time owner/operator of Bloomsbury Forge on Bennett’s Creek in southeastern Frederick County. He also was the kid brother of Maryland’s first elected governor, Thomas Johnson, Jr.
Now back to our subject James T. Johnson. His education was begun at the Frederick Academy and he went on to graduate in 1850 from Princeton (New Jersey). After graduation, Johnson studied medicine with his father and advanced his knowledge at the University of Maryland, gaining his degree in 1852. That same year, the young physician would marry Miss Anna Mobberly of New Market, the daughter of Dr. E. W. Mobberly. James T. Johnson opened his practice in Frederick at this time and enjoyed great success until the beginning of hostilities connected with the American Civil War.
Dr. Johnson was outspoken in his support of the Southern Cause, and this would lead him to enter the service of the Confederacy as an assistant surgeon of the provisional army. He would quickly rise up in rank to hold the title of surgeon. Johnson was elevated again to the position of medical purveyor of the army, and then Chief Purveyor of the Army in 1862. In this role, Dr. Johnson had control of the hospitals and medical supplies for the entire army, involving an outlay of 1.5 million dollars/month with his principal depot being headquartered at Charlotte, North Carolina. He would hold this position until the war’s end in 1865.
Dr. Johnson would come back to Frederick, but was not welcomed back with open arms by the majority of the Union-siding populace. Diarist Jacob Engelbrecht made mention of return in June, 1865, starting off his passage with:
“Another batch of returned Rebels from our country have returned within a few weeks, viz J. D. Cockrill, Doctor J. T. Johnson, Richard Norris, Sergeant Michael P. Galligher, Carl Hoffman, Amos Scott….”
This “homecoming” likely prompted the physician to take his practice elsewhere. And that he did, traveling across the country to make his new start. Newspaper advertisements show Johnson bouncing between Virginia City and Reno, Nevada in the 1870’s. This stint was capped by Johnson becoming a health officer for the state of Nevada, established in 1864.
By the end of the decade, Dr. Johnson and son Roger would be listed in the 1880 US census. They were now living together in San Rafael, Marin County, California. "Doc" Johnson would leave northern California in 1885, however Roger would live out the balance of his life in nearby San Francisco, practicing law over the next three decades. He would not marry.
Dr. Johnson next relocated to Decatur, Alabama, and served as health officer there until 1891. He would move to nearby Huntsville and hold the position of Health Officer of Madison County until the evening of August 9, 1899. After attending to his duties that day, the doctor would take supper with his wife. He would suffer a stroke shortly after, causing his death at the age of 68.
Mr. Blair was the son of famous Union Civil War Gen. Frank Preston Blair. Blair’s father also served as a US congressman from Missouri. Cary had come from a high pedigree family as well. His grandfather was Kentucky newspaper editor and politician Francis Preston Blair, who, in 1840, came across a mica-flecked spring near, what is today, Georgia Avenue near the Washington, DC line. The location today is Acorn Park at Blair Mill Rd., Newell St. and East-West Highway. The elder Blair decided he liked the location so much that he would acquire the property surrounding the spring and build a summer home for his family, away from the sweltering, malaria-infested confines of the capital city. Mr. Blair constructed a 20-room mansion on the parcel and called it “Silver Spring.” Cary’s uncle, Montgomery Blair, represented Dred Scott in the landmark Supreme Court case and served as mayor of St. Louis and Postmaster General under President Lincoln.
Emilie (Johnson) Blair gave birth to a son, Francis Preston Blair III, on September 3, 1891. She would endure complications from the childbirth and developed Puerperal Pyrexia, dying just over two weeks later on September 19th, 1891.
Cary Blair would not recover from his wife’s premature death, and lived a reclusive existence in Colorado and Texas until his own death in 1944. Son Francis was adopted and raised in Philadelphia by Cary’s brother, dying himself in London in 1943.
Shortly after Dr. Johnson’s death, wife Anna M. Johnson and surviving daughter Louisa (Johnson) Clay would relocate to Maryland from Alabama. Named for her ancestral cousin and former First Lady (Louisa Johnson, wife of John Quincy Adams), Louisa married Huntsville attorney William Lewis Clay (1852-1911). William L. Clay was also a one-time secretary of the Alabama State Senate.
Louisa won some notoriety of her own as an author, compiling a 70-page book called Western Mosaics, which chronicled a five-week trip through the west. She was also responsible for writing The Spirit Dominant: A Life of Mary Hayes Chynoweth. Ms. Chynoweth was a noted philanthropist and faith healer, responsible for establishing the True Life Church.
It seems that the union between Mr. and Mrs. Clay was not the epitome of “Sweet Home Alabama.” They would divorce, likely the impetus for Louisa and her mother to return home to Frederick, Maryland. Once back, they first lived on East Patrick Street, and later can be found living at 207 East Second Street (in the household of William and Margaret Young) by the time of the 1910 census.
Anna Mobberly Johnson died a few days before Christmas (December 22) of 1913, and was buried on Christmas Eve. The mother and daughter had bought lots at Mount Olivet Cemetery, but would acquire more than two for their personal needs. These were located next to the gravesite of Mrs. Johnson's parents and brother, all three dying in the 1870's and 1880's. In death, the James T. Johnson family would be carefully brought back together in Frederick.
Roger Johnson died January 13th, 1915. Louisa personally went to San Francisco to make the necessary plans for disinterment and cross-country travel. On March 18th, Roger was laid to rest next to his mother. A bachelor with no heirs, Roger Johnson’s estate made national headlines as he left $200,000 in trust to a young student at the University of California at Berkeley.
During the ongoing months of 1915, various stories described illnesses besetting Louisa, but full recoveries were always the case—at least until October of that year. The month started with two more reburials within Mount Olivet. On October 4th, the bodies of Dr. James T. Johnson and Emilie Johnson Blair traveled back to Frederick from Huntsville, Alabama and were brought through the main gates. They were destined for reburial in the family plot on Area H/Lot 477.
“As happy as a pig in mud” is an age-old idiom still used today. Along similar lines, another popular, pork-related phrase is “He is in hog heaven!” or “She went hog wild!” In all these cases, the subject seems to be enthralled, and satisfied, while engaged in some pleasurable act, all the while captivated within a desirable environment. Oftentimes, gluttony of some sort is implied.
The basic underlying premise of the first phrase is that pigs are happy in mud. Not knowing the exact religious stance of most porcine-based creatures, I’m assuming that a mud-filled pen or trough is the closest thing to “heaven” that a pig, boar or hog will experience. Options are limited since it is generally known that they seldom make it off the ground, beings they aren’t known to fly.
Interestingly, our human view of mud is totally congruent to that of swine. Unless involved in a social endurance event activity or spa treatment, we generally are very “unhappy” in mud. Even just the hint of mud on our shoes or clothes is repulsive, and we make extra efforts to avoid wet, soft earth as much as possible.
So what exactly is it about mud that makes pigs so gleeful? Researchers say that wallowing in the mud offers several practical benefits, like keeping swine cool. Reasons range from sun protection to parasite removal to temperature regulation. In April 2011, Researcher Marc Bracke of the Netherland’s Wageningen University and Research Center shared great insight after conducting a study for the Journal of Applied Animal Behavior Science. Bracke wrote:
“Pigs have few sweat glands, high body fat and a barrel-shaped torso that stores heat. Wallowing can lower a pig's temperature by 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, making it more efficient than sweating would be even if pigs had lots of sweat glands. A mud bath is more cooling than a dip in cold water because the water in mud evaporates off the pig's coated body more slowly, allowing the animal to reap the cooling benefits of evaporation for longer.
But even in cool weather, pigs still wallow, suggesting that the magic of mud doesn't just lie in thermal regulation, Some wild pigs seem to use mud baths to scrape off parasites such as ticks and lice; they may also rub their scent glands around wallowing areas, possibly as a way of territory marking.”
So there you have it, the secret behind “porcine mud bliss!” Now what does this have to do with Mount Olivet? Well I was recently triggered by a few tidbits picked up while researching the cemetery. First off, William T. Duvall (1813-1886), Mount Olivet’s first superintendent, actually raised hogs in a pen on the premises. I also stumbled across a few old prominent Frederick families having names that could be stretched to relate to swine terms, but certainly that is where the connections end. Mount Olivet has three graves associated with the Pigman family who were originally buried in the All Saints’ Church burying ground (once located downtown off E. All Saints Street). Meanwhile, the cemetery boasts 10 members of a family having the last name of Hogg. Both surnames were fairly new to me, however I recalled the latter from childhood with the fictional character of Jefferson Davis “J.D.” Hogg. Known more commonly as “Boss Hogg,” this was the unscrupulous county commissioner from the legendary Dukes of Hazzard television show.
Tom Kohlhepp, an industry colleague and history lover, recently alerted me to one of the Hogg family being another unsung, and forgotten, individual buried within Mount Olivet’s gates. This was John K. Hogg, whose noteworthy achievement came in 1870, when he successfully registered U. S. Trademark No. 9 with the United States Trademark and Patent Office. That’s right, this was the 9th trademark in US history—and ironically Hogg’s entry was for soap.
For quick review, a trademark is defined as a recognizable sign, design or expression which identifies products or services of a particular source from those of others. The trademark owner can be an individual, business organization, or any legal entity. A trademark may be located on a package, a label, a voucher, or on the product itself. We are surrounded by registered trademarks ranging from names/logos pertaining to soft drinks, candy bars, professional sports teams, car manufacturers, sneakers, and household cleaning agents.
John Kunkel Hogg was born in Frederick on October 11, 1848. He was the son of Samuel Robinson Hogg, Sr., a native of Delaware who had come to town after living in Elkton (MD) in the 1830’s and opened his own business as a tallow chandler, a dealer in household items such as candles, wax, oil, soap, and paint. John’s mother was Mr. Hogg’s second wife, Barbara Ann Kunkel. Many of the Kunkels are also here in Mount Olivet, and of particular note are John’s grandfather John Kunkel II and uncles John B. Kunkel and Jacob Kunkel, a US congressman. These three gentlemen were onetime owners of the Catoctin Furnace (mid-19th century), and specialized in the production of what else—“pig iron.”
John K. Hogg and brothers James and Samuel R. Hogg, Jr. learned and worked the family business with their father, who opened a small manufactory adjacent their home on the north side of East Patrick Street, near the intersection with Carroll Street. The home and lot once extended through to Church Street and boasted a two-story stone dwelling and a plentiful fruit orchard. Samuel Hogg purchased the property at auction in 1837. I have not claimed the exact address but strongly deduct that the Hogg home and store was located in the vicinity of the parking lot for downtown Frederick’s US Post Office, and along Chapel Alley.
Samuel R. Hogg, Sr. was quite active in Frederick’s business and civic community. He was the father of 10 children, and said to have been an outspoken Unionist during the American Civil War. Hogg’s Soap was the chief product his small industry, and would be carried by merchants in other cities, including Baltimore.
Mr. Hogg died in April 1868 at the age of 68, and was buried in Mount Olivet at a well-attended funeral by his many friends and neighbors. Ads began appearing one month later in the local Frederick Examiner newspaper announcing the fact that sons John K. and James Hogg would be carrying on the business their father had meticulously crafted over the balance of his life.
One year later, the firm of J.K. Hogg and Bro. announced improvements to their store and works, and boasted a wide variety of soaps that could only be gotten by customers in larger cities. One year later, John would register for his trademark. In the meantime, John and James amicably dissolved their partnership, and John made a solo effort of it, apparently with help from kid brother Samuel R. Jr. In early 1870, an auction was held to sell off the old homestead and manufactory. The family appears together in the 1870 census, but soon they would depart Frederick, heading east to Baltimore and eventually bringing the family soap business with them.
I wasn’t able to glean much of John K. Hogg’s personal life other than his marriage in 1870 to Elizabeth Wilson Myers (1846-1929), the daughter of German immigrants. The couple can be found living with John’s mother, Barbara, in Frederick in 1870 as newlyweds. A son, John Robert, would be born to them in October, 1871. By 1873, they had moved to Baltimore and were residing and working at 38 N. Paca Street, a few blocks south of the famed Lexington Market. John K. and teamed up with his brothers again to operate a grocery store under the name of J. Hogg and Bro. They also were manufacturing Diamond Yeast Powder. Today, this location is encompassed by the campus of the University of Maryland, Baltimore.
A daughter Minna would join the family in 1875. They appear to have moved around quite a bit, living in the downtown/west Baltimore area of the city at locations such as Mosher, Stricker and Arlington streets. Back to business, John and Samuel would start a soap-making firm under the name of the S. R. H and Co. in the Calverton section of town. Perhaps they did this to honor their father. The Brothers Hogg eventually changed this moniker to the Union Soap Company and advertisements appear in newspapers throughout the 1880’s and 1890’s.
I don’t know what became of their production of Star Soap, as I have found another firm, under the ownership of the Schultz family, producing Star Soap out of Zanesville, Ohio in the 1880’s. The Schultz brothers would continue until 1903, when the Proctor & Gamble Company would purchase the endeavor and move it to Cincinnati, a city once known as “Porkopolis” because it was the one-time center of hog packing for the country. Proctor and Gamble were the makers of Ivorine Soap, which they smartly renamed Ivory Soap.
In 1896, the Hogg brothers petitioned the Baltimore City Mayor and City Council for permission to convert the former Locust Point neighborhood property of the Maryland White Lead Company (located near Fort McHenry on the southwest corner of Fort Ave and Ludwell Street) into a manufactory for toilet and laundry soaps.
I was curious as to what the soap production process consisted of—first having to explore the makeup of soap itself. Here’s what I missed while daydreaming in high school chemistry class (courtesy of Wikipedia):
In chemistry, a soap is a salt of a fatty acid. Household uses for soaps include washing, bathing, and other types of housekeeping, where soaps act as surfactants, emulsifying oils to enable them to be carried away by water. In industry they are also used in textile spinning and are important components of some lubricants. Metal soaps are also included in modern artists' oil paints formulations as a rheology modifier.
Soaps for cleaning are obtained by treating vegetable or animal oils and fats with a strong base, such as sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide in an aqueous solution. Fats and oils are composed of triglycerides; three molecules of fatty acids attach to a single molecule of glycerol. The alkaline solution, which is often called lye (although the term "lye soap" refers almost exclusively to soaps made with sodium hydroxide), induces saponification.
In this reaction, the triglyceride fats first hydrolyze into free fatty acids, and then the latter combine with the alkali to form crude soap: an amalgam of various soap salts, excess fat or alkali, water, and liberated glycerol (glycerin). The glycerin, a useful byproduct, can remain in the soap product as a softening agent, or be isolated for other uses.
Into the 1900’s, the soap works would move back into downtown with locations on Arch Street and later Pearl Street. Newspaper and advertising cards can be found “barking” another signature product entitled “Wonder Worker Washing Soap.” The last citing I found of one of the company’s ads was in 1917.
Resurrection Sunday is Christianity’s most important day. Whether called Pascha in Greek (and Latin) or Easter, as its most commonly known in the western world, this is a festival and holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus from the dead as described in the New Testament. It is said to have occurred three days following Jesus "passion" and death by crucifixion at the hands of Roman soldiers. The place was Calvary, located immediately outside Jerusalem’s walls (c. 30 AD).
In popular culture, Easter is connected to eggs, rabbits and candy. The custom of the “Easter egg” supposedly began with pagan rituals and festivals celebrating spring, and rebirth. Eggs were a key symbol of the latter (rebirth) and were given as gifts, oftentimes decorated. Another theory recalls a practice in Mesopotamia, where early Christians stained eggs red in memory of the blood of Christ, shed at his crucifixion. As such, the Easter egg is thought to be a symbol of the empty tomb for Christians.
William M. Townley was the owner of a drug store in Newark, New Jersey, where he concocted recipes for home products. A holiday favorite was egg-coloring dye solutions, very popular this time of year, especially with German customers. One day, in 1879, Townley apparently ruined his shirt and marble counter while “spooning-out" dye for a customer. He immediately went to work on packaging a powder form of the dye to avoid further accidents to himself and customers at the point of purchase. Townley eventually figured out how to concentrate dye in tablet form, and the modern Easter egg dyeing kit was born. The original price of each tablet was five cents, and customers could make the dye by combining the tablets with water and vinegar. Townley eventually renamed his business the Paas Dye Company--"Paas" comes from Pasen, another Dutch name for Easter.
I myself partook in coloring many an egg in my youth, and when my sons were smaller. I certainly think everyone should experience this “rite of passage,” not so much mixing dyes, but more so carefully balancing hard-boiled eggs on that crazy, wire dipper that came with the kit…but I digress. Over time, evolution has given us an egg substitute in modern times where real eggs have been replaced by artificial representations made from chocolate, or plastic—the latter filled with candy such as jellybeans, Hershey Kisses, or M&M’s.
Back to the Easter Bunny, he is a folkloric figure and symbol of the Christian holiday, depicted as a rabbit bringing Easter eggs. Originating among German Lutherans, “the "Easter Hare" originally played the role of a judge, evaluating whether children were good or disobedient in behavior at the start of the season of Eastertide.” In legend, the creature carries colored eggs in his basket, candy, and sometimes also toys to the homes of children who were faithful and obedient during the 40-day Lenten period leading up to Easter Sunday. Apparently, the custom dates back to 1682, but I still haven’t figured out why the Bunny is depicted as wearing clothes. Truth be told, the symbolism of the rabbit has something to do with spring and fertility but that is taking me way off tangent for the aim of this article!
While brainstorming for an appropriate Holy Week-themed subject for “Stories in Stone,” I searched Mount Olivet’s database looking for any interred persons having the last name of Easter. While finding none, I did find 11 with the surname of Easterday. Of these, one jumped out to me—Gamaliel Easterday. I had never seen this first name before, so I immediately went in search of its origin.
Gamaliel was a first-century Jewish rabbi and a leader in the Sanhedrin. He is mentioned a couple of times in Scripture as a famous and well-respected teacher and indirectly had a profound effect on the early church. Gamaliel was a Pharisee and a grandson of the famous Rabbi Hillel. Like his grandfather, Gamaliel was known for taking a rather lenient view of Old Testament law in contrast to contemporaries who held to a more stringent understanding of Jewish traditions.
The first biblical reference to Gamaliel is found in Acts 5. The scene is a meeting of the Sanhedrin, where John and Peter are standing trial. The Sanhedrin was the equivalent of the Supreme Court of ancient Israel, comprised of 70 men and the high priest. This group met in the Temple of Jerusalem. After having warned the apostles to cease preaching in the name of Jesus, the Jewish council becomes infuriated when Simon Peter defiantly replies, “We must obey God rather than human beings!” (Acts 5:29). Peter’s statement enrages the council, who begin to seek the death penalty for both of these men.
Into the fray steps Gamaliel, “who was honored by all the people” (Acts 5:34). Gamaliel first orders the apostles to be removed from the room, then encourages the council to be cautious in dealing with Jesus’ followers:
“In the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God” (Acts 5:38–39). The Sanhedrin is persuaded by Gamaliel’s words (verse 40).
Later rabbis praised Gamaliel for his knowledge, but he may be better known for his most famous pupil—another Pharisee named Saul of Tarsus (Acts 22:3). We know him better as the apostle Paul. It was under the tutelage of Rabbi Gamaliel that Paul developed an expert knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures. Paul’s educational and professional credentials allowed him to preach in the synagogues wherever he traveled, and his grasp of Old Testament history and law aided his presentation of Jesus Christ as the One who had fulfilled the Law (Matthew 5:17).
Later rabbis praised Gamaliel for his knowledge, but he may be better known for his most famous pupil—another Pharisee named Saul of Tarsus (Acts 22:3). We know him better as the apostle Paul. It was under the tutelage of Rabbi Gamaliel that Paul developed an expert knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures. Paul’s educational and professional credentials allowed him to preach in the synagogues wherever he traveled, and his grasp of Old Testament history and law aided his presentation of Jesus Christ as the One who had fulfilled the Law (Matthew 5:17).
So in conclusion, if you were to hold the name of Gamaliel, you should exude the qualities of wisdom and prudence. My hope was to find these same qualities in Gamaliel Easterday of Frederick County, Maryland. As for other “Gamaliels” of note, they are few and far between. I was surprised to find that one of our past presidents of the United States possessed Gamaliel for his middle name. I will save the answer for later in the article, but I’m sure you will agree that it doesn’t help prove my sought after “wise and prudent” hypothesis.
Although hailing from Saxony, within the Kingdom of Prussia, I would assume that the Ostertags who settled in Frederick County were not of the Jewish faith tradition. Gamaliel Easterday’s great- grandfather was Christian Ostertag (1730-1805), the first of his family to make his way to the Americas. He arrived in Philadelphia in 1749 having traveled across the Atlantic Ocean aboard a ship named “Christian.” First settling in the area of York (PA), Christian Ostertag would eventually come to Frederick County and established himself as a farmer and innkeeper near what is today Jefferson, Maryland. The Easterday ancestral farmstead still stands atop Steiner’s Hill, roughly a mile and a half west of Jefferson in the area where MD 180 crosses Catoctin Creek.
Also making his home in Frederick County was a supposed brother to Christian named Martin Ostertag. Martin landed in Philadelphia in 1765, and would die by 1785. Last, but not least, many may be familiar with the story of Michael Ostertag, a former Hessian soldier who landed in New York in 1778 as a member of the Ansbach Regiment in the service of the British. He left the regiment at Yorktown and also made his way to Frederick County, moving to the Boonsboro area of Washington County, Maryland, where he died in 1837. Today’s Easterday Road and Ostertag Vistas, located near Myersville, are attributed to Michael’s descendants.
Gamaliel’s father and grandfather were both farmers, devout Christians, residents of the Middletown Valley and held the first name of Conrad. Ironically, Gamaliel’s roots would have additional ties to faith and religion as his paternal grandmother, Barbara Blessing had married Conrad Easterday.
It seems as no surprise that Gamaliel would take up the wise and prudent occupation as farmer. His father died when he was twelve, leaving his mother to raise eight children on the family farm northeast of Myersville in Ellerton. Gamaliel was a member of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Ellerton, also known as “the Stone Church” and the namesake for Church Hill. This place of worship is a lineal descendant of the first church in Middletown Valley, once located at nearby Jerusalem, a few short miles to the west. St. John’s cemetery serves as the site of his parent’s burials.
Gamaliel likely attended the nearby Church Hill School and married a local girl, Margaret Lavinia Summers, in 1851. Gamaliel and Margaret would have 9 children, all raised into adulthood on the Church Hill farmstead (located off Church Hill Road, just northwest of Ellerton). He would relocate around 1893 to another farm located about two miles east of Jefferson, on the north side of Jefferson Pike (MD180) at the eastern foot of Catoctin Mountain.
Unfortunately I couldn’t glean much from archival resources. In 1879, Gamaliel made an unsuccessful bid to the government for running mail between Middletown and Ellerton. I found only a few local newspaper articles on him. The earliest in 1885 talked about him presenting a groundhog to a Mr. Rohrback in Frederick with hopes that it would become part of a museum collection at Druid Hill Park. Next, an 1890 clipping talks of a fascination with skunks. Finally, another article recounts him bringing figs (from his fig tree) into the Frederick Daily News office in Frederick (1894). Outside of that, I understand that half of his children moved westward, perhaps because of the skunks?
As for the US president who sported the middle name of Gamaliel? It was none other than our 29th president—Warren G. Harding (1865-1923). He usually is thought of as being among our worst president, but it has nothing to do with his unique middle name I’m sure. Harding died while in office, and was quite beloved at the time. However, after his death posthumous stories started emerging regarding scandals involving cabinet members, mistresses and even a bastard child fathered by William G.
On the bright side, I’m pleased to close with this uplifting and appropriate little factoid as President Harding actually reinstituted a White House tradition started by predecessor Rutherford B. Hayes in 1878, but postponed for a few years due to World War I.
March 28, 1921
The White House Easter Egg Roll was held for the first time since 1916; between 50,000 and 60,000 children attended. President Warren G. Harding, First Lady Florence Harding and presidential pet Laddie Boy, an Airedale terrier, were on hand, along with characters from the childrens’ play “Alice and the White Rabbit,” then currently appearing in Washington.
“Frohe Ostern!” (Happy Easter in German...of course)
Frederick, Maryland has always taken great pride in its rich German roots. The area north of Frederick City is commonly known to genealogists and historians as the Upper German settlement. Frederick itself was named after a German prince from the House of Hanover. This was likely done as a “marketing ploy” to attract hard-working, frugal and God-fearing people—ones who soon showed that they were willing to escape the hardships of their homeland, for the opportunity to make a new life in the “New World.”
Many of the earliest inhabitants of today’s Frederick County would come via Pennsylvania’s recently established Dutch country (Hanover, York, Lancaster areas). This first occurred in the mid 1700’s. Frederick Town, itself, was laid out in 1745 as a planned community on the western frontier of the Maryland colony. Founder Daniel Dulany sent circulars advertising the many benefits of settling here. These went to Germany (then a confederation of states) itself, and, naturally, had distribution and testimonials targeting those who had already migrated to William Penn’s colony.
Two of the earliest German families to settle in Frederick were the Schleys and the Steiners. Both fill the local history books as pillars of the community through a multitude of endeavors, particularly civic leadership and the field of medicine. John Thomas Schley is reputed to have built Frederick Town’s first house, had the first native-born child and became the first schoolmaster (affiliated with the German Reformed church). Meanwhile, Jacob Steiner (Stoner) constructed the legendary Mill Pond house north of the town (proper) and built/operated the first principal inn at the southwest corner of the Square Corner (intersection of Market and Patrick streets).
In addition to being savvy business people, these two families are also known for their patriotic contributions. There was participation in the American Revolution. The grandsons of Jacob Steiner were Frederick's respective leaders of local militia units in the War of 1812: Stephen Steiner (infantry) and Henry Steiner (artillery). Both participated in the "Star-Spangled" defense of Baltimore.
Henry’s grandson, Dr. Lewis H. Steiner, made a name for himself through his leadership of relief efforts put forth by the United States Sanitary Commission. He rose quickly through the ranks of the commission to become Chief Inspector for the Army of the Potomac.
Admiral Winfield Scott Schley was the GGG-grandson of John Thomas Schley, and enjoyed a much-decorated career in the United States Navy. After graduation from the Academy in Annapolis, he served during the Civil War. His greatest moment came more than three decades later in Santiago, Cuba during the Spanish-American War. Here, Schley commanded Admiral George Dewey’s flagship “the Brooklyn.” Ahead of the main squadron, “the Brooklyn” trapped the entirety of the Spanish fleet with Santiago Harbor, meanwhile exposing itself to a monstrous barrage of fire. Schley’s US comrades used this opportunity to successfully destroy the entire Spanish Fleet. This resulted in the cutting off of valuable aid and support to Spanish land troops who were currently doing battle with Teddy Roosevelt and his Roughriders.
Both families (Steiner and Schley) collided in 1847 with the wedding between local druggist Dr. Fairfax Schley and Anna Rebecca Steiner. The couple had four children—the oldest would be named Steiner Schley. Steiner Schley (1849-1911) would learn the trade of pharmacist and continued his father's successful drugstore business in town. He also tinkered in other endeavors, including his tenure as a longtime Board of Visitors member of the Maryland School for the Deaf, and is credited with building the Monocacy Valley Railroad, a four-mile track that connected the Western Maryland Railroad’s main line with Catoctin Furnace. He also served in the boards of the Central National Bank and the Mutual Fire & Insurance Company.
Although Dr. Steiner Schley missed serving in active military duty over his lifetime, his son John would eagerly enlist in America’s first conflict against Germany—the country from which his Schley and Steiner ancestors hailed. This was certainly a conflicted time for some local residents boasting Dutch heritage, while others would recount the reason their families had originally left Germany, be it in the 1700’s or 1800’s. John Reading Schley holds the distinction of becoming the first Frederick Countian to become a military pilot. He joined the US Army air service in World War I, just 14 years after the Wright brothers had made their legendary first-powered flight of 1903.
Born in Frederick City on October 12th, 1894, John Reading Schley was the son of Lillian F. (Kunkel) Schley-daughter of one-time Catoctin Furnace owner John Baker Kunkel. Through the Kunkels, young John could trace lineage to namesake John Reading, one of the Colonial-era governors of New Jersey and among the founders of Princeton University. Somehow along the way, John Reading earned the nickname of “Slip.”
As a boy, John Reading Schley became a member of Evangelical Reformed Church of Frederick, formerly known simply as German Reformed. The family lived directly next door to the east at 5 W. Church Street. John spent several summer vacations at a YMCA camp on Lake George, New York and conducted by one of the leading secretaries of the organization. Early education was attained at the Frederick Academy (Frederick College), from which Schley graduated in 1912 at the head of the class. He was known as a hard-working student and expert debater.
Schley's father passed away at the age of 61 in 1911 after a six-month fight with pancreatic cancer. This prompted his mother to move with 17-year-old John and sister Lillian. They sold their fine townhouse and took up residence a block south in an apartment located at 18 W. Patrick Street. John eventually completed his preparatory course at Mercersburg (PA) Academy in 1915. Described as “strong, and well built,” he excelled in athletic sports, while being highly popular with classmates. Above all, his associates said “he was high-minded and honorable.”
In the autumn of 1915, "Slip" Schley entered Lehigh University, expecting to take a four year-course track in electro-metallurgy. He soon was initiated into Sigma Phi fraternity. At the end of his freshman year, trouble with his eyes caused him to postpone studies, taking up work in one of the foundries in South Bethlehem, PA. One year later, he found another calling as the US Congress voted to enter what was then the largest, and bloodiest, war in history on April 6th, 1917.
John Reading Schley went to a recruiter’s office on April 12th (1917) and enlisted in the New York Naval Reserves as a coxswain on a submarine chaser. He apparently became weary waiting to be placed on active duty. At his request, he was transferred to the Aviation Signal Corps Service at Fort Myer, VA, on August 18th, 1917. From here, Schley was then sent to the United States School of Aeronautics at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He received his diploma as “flying cadet” from the Atlanta-based institution on October 19th, 1917.
One week later, John Reading Schley was sent to France to be trained to fly. This was the war that boasted the early flying aces, using single seat biplanes such as France’s Nieuport models and Britain’s Sopwith Camel. This was also the era of the immortal Manfred von Richthofen, known more commonly as “the Red Baron.”
In mid-October (1918), Schley was granted leave to be spent on the Mediterranean in the luxurious French Riviera (southeast part of the country). He had been ill, and this furlough was thought to help him make a full recovery. Upon his return, he hastily resumed advanced training flights at Issoudun. He wrote a letter home on October 20th to his mother and sister. In hindsight, it is thought that he may not have been well-enough to resume the rigorous training schedule. Unfortunately, Schley would never get his chance to make the history books with wartime gallantry like so many of his ancestors. He would lose his life on a cross-country flight that commenced on October 22nd, 1918, 20 days before the war’s end. Lt. Schley was only 24 years old.
A fellow-cadet, who originally befriended John Reading Schley at Mercersburg, wrote a letter home to friends of the Schley family. This gave further information to a scant and misleading telegram that reached Frederick and Schley's mother and sister with news of his death. The classmate's letter stated that “He (Schley) died a mighty clean and noble death. He was on his advanced training and was doing well, but on a cross-country flight something went wrong and he fell from a great height.”
Military records report that Schley actually suffered a heart attack and lost control of his airplane on that fateful day. He was said to have drifted for a while, before hitting the ground. The young aviator was found unconscious and immediately taken to a hospital. He died and was buried in a military temporary cemetery on the grounds of the 3rd Aviation Center at Issoudun. Two years later, his body would be dis-interred and sent back home to his hometown of Frederick for reburial. Accompanying his remains, was the “military issue” marble cross that had marked his original gravesite.
John Reading Schley would be laid to rest in Mount Olivet on November 20th, 1920 with full military honors. He holds the distinction of being the first military pilot from Frederick County. He is also the first Frederick serviceman buried in France whose body was brought home for final interment. Meanwhile, many of his Issoudun comrades were moved to the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery (France). For a number of years afterwards his grave would be decorated by the American Legion Auxiliary on Armistice Day (November 11).
Across the Atlantic Ocean and "Over There," a monument was erected in the 1920’s near the Issoudun base, bearing the names of 171 Americans who died at the U.S. training facility during the war. Between 1917 and 1919, some 7,500 Americans were stationed at the 3rd Aviation Instruction Center of the United States—which included seven camps, 11 landing fields, and two field hospitals. Many of the fatalities resulted from flight training accidents.
American participation in “the Great War” lasted only a year and a half, but in that time, an astounding 117,000 American soldiers were killed and 202,000 wounded. By the time of the Armistice, 766 pursuit pilots had completed their training at Issoudun, of whom 139 were retained as testers, staff pilots and instructors. The remaining 627 were sent to the Zone of Advance. 171 Americans died here in training accidents.