Here comes that rainy day feeling again
And soon my tears they will be falling like rain
It always seems to be a Monday
Left over memories of Sunday always spent with you
Before the clouds appeared and took away my sunshine
Our weather "Fortunes" of late have been most, unfortunate. It's been a cruel, wet summer for many of my Frederick neighbors over the past several months. On the bright side, the continued weather woes have given inspiration to this week's story.
While driving through the cemetery during a downpour last week, I coyly took note of an aged tandem of monuments in Area E with the name "Waters" carved on their marble faces. I don't know if this is a shining example of serendipity, but it was enough to provide guidance for my next research foray into another interesting former citizen, a physician who helped build the Frederick we know and love today.
When delving into the research of this Waters family, I soon experienced the fitting adage of “When it
rains, it pours,” as there were interesting connections galore.
Basil Waters (1761-1844), the father of our subject (Dr. William Waters), was the son of the
aforementioned William Waters of Brookeville. He married Anne Pottinger Magruder on March 19th,
1797. The bride was the daughter of Revolutionary War patriot, Zadok Magruder, a colonel who
commanded the militia of lower Frederick County which at the time stretched to Georgetown. Col.
Magruder, (Dr. Waters maternal grandfather), helped establish the early governmental framework for
Montgomery County and is still remembered today with a high school named in his honor.
Basil Waters built a house on 200 acres of land which he had inherited from his father, and located in the
vicinity of today’s Germantown. He named the farm Pleasant Fields. The house still stands, now part of
the Montgomery County Parks and Recreation system. Waters Special House Park sits on a 3.9 acre
parcel on Milestone Manor Lane. It serves home to Montgomery Parks offices and Heritage
Montgomery, a non-profit organization that seeks to promote heritage tourism, foster historic
preservation, and provide associated educational programming.
Imagine my surprise when I realized that I have actually spent time in this structure! I attended a few Maryland State Heritage Authorities meetings here when I worked for the Frederick County Tourism Council (2007-2015). My last visit to the Waters homestead was in September, 2014. I was in the process of returning a collection of War of 1812 uniforms borrowed for our "Home of the Brave" commemorative event which celebrated Frederick veterans in the 1812 conflict and the 200th anniversary of the writing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by Francis Scott Key.
Residents of Pleasant Fields plantation in the early decades of the 19th century included Dr. William Waters, born December 28th, 1799 and five siblings:
- Mary Waters [1802–1803]
- Zadok Magruder Waters [1803–1892]
- Susanna Waters [1806–1824]
- Zachariah Waters [1809–1871]
- Robert Pottinger Magruder Waters [1815–1824]
William Waters would pursue studies in the medical field, attending the University of Maryland. Here,
he was a classmate of Frederick City’s William Tyler (1784-1872), a longtime resident of Record Street. Waters would graduate in 1824, and afterwards became part of the state’s Medical and Chirurgical Faculty.
The year 1824 would serve as a bittersweet pill for young Dr. Waters. In April, tragedy struck the Waters
family when a Black Measles epidemic took the lives of Dr. Waters' siblings, 18-year-old Susanna, 9-year-old Robert, and his mother Anne.
Dr. Waters practiced in Montgomery County for two years before making his way to Frederick City, perhaps at the urging of his school chum, Dr. Tyler. In fact, the two would practice medicine together here in Frederick for seven years. On the personal side of life, William Waters would marry in December, 1825. His bride was Miss Frances Conway Hite, hailing from Berkeley County, VA (later WV).
Frances’ great-grandfather was Jost Hite, an early German immigrant to this country who led 16 colonial era immigrant families from Pennsylvania to the site of today’s Winchester, VA. Along the way, Hite convinced the families of Jacob and Isaac Van Metre (the earliest European settlers to live on the Tasker's Chance parcel, land that would become Frederick City) to accompany him west. As early as 1725, the Van Metres had been living along Carroll Creek (then known as Beaver Creek) in the southeastern area of today's Downtown Frederick, roughly from today's S. Market St. to the Frederick Fairgrounds.
Dr. and Mrs. Waters had four children:
Juliet Ann Waters (b. 1826)
Susanna Waters (b. 1828)
Amanda Baker Waters (b. 1830)
Frances Courtney Waters (b. 1834)
Ann Pottinger Waters (b.1837)
Frederick diarist Jacob Engelbrecht has several mentions of Dr. Waters in his writings over the years. In particular, the good doctor made several house calls to the Engelbrecht residence. On September 1st, 1834, Jacob Engelbrecht penned this entry into his legendary diary:
"Phillip Melancthon & myself have been sick the past week, he with the bilious (slight) & chills & fever, & myself with the chills & fever. But going through a regular course of medicine, we have thus far, thank God, recovered, though we dare not talk too fast yet. Dr. William Waters attended us."
Here are a few articles which stand testament to Waters' medical "handiwork" in service to other Frederick City residents.
Sadly Jacob Engelbrecht also notes in his diary the premature deaths of three of Dr. Waters' children: Juliet in 1831 (age 4), Amanda in 1833 (age 3) and Frances (age 1) in 1835. Originally buried in All Saints' Protestant Episcopal burying ground, these bodies would be moved to Mount Olivet in 1854, the year the cemetery opened. Dr. Waters purchased several grave spaces in Area E/Lot 150.
William and Frances' other two daughters, Susanna and Ann, would reach adulthood and marry physicians. Susanna would marry Dr. Joshua Gregg Gibson of Shepherdstown and Ann wed Dr. Harry W. Dorsey of New Market.
Dr. Waters was a leading member of the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland, holding various positions of leadership including Vice-President from 1857-58, and was regularly called on as an orator to the group for key meetings.
The Doctor's Brethren
I wanted to find out more about the physician's home residence. I uncovered a few references, one connecting him to a town home in downtown Frederick on W. Second Street, "across Court Street."
A brief description can be found in C. Sue Markell's unpublished manuscript Short Stories of Life in Frederick in 1830:
"Across the public thoroughfare, subsequently known as Dill's Alley (Court Street), stands, as then, the substantial old homestead of Dr. William Waters. Of the office adjoining, during her husband's absence, Mrs. waters always assumed charge; administering her quasi-professional duties with such ability and fidelity as to acquire the sobriquet of "Dr. Fannie." Many of our older citizens may yet be able to recall this lady's beaming countenance, with its environment of gingham or cambric ruffling—for she never appeared without a corded or "slip" bonnet of diminutive size perched upon the top of her head."
Of equal interest, a reference from Jacob Engelbrecht in 1870 states that Dr. Waters had been the owner of the property by George Murdock, located roughly a mile and a half northwest of town. In fact, Dr. Waters home, labeled on the 1858 Bond Map, was part of the parcel named Rocky Spring, namesake of Rocky Springs Road which survives today. I would learn from my friend Debby Moone, (President of the Historic Rocky Springs Chapel Inc.), that the Waters family likely lived in, or near, the famed home built by early German settler Frederick Kemp.
Dr. Waters appears to have been paying a mortgage on the farm, later to be known as Sandy Spring, to Capt. Ezra Doub. Doub was a former soldier, gentleman farmer and businessman who earned his military title through serving as an officer over a militia group which he personally raised for the Mexican War in the 1840's. Doub also owned, and farmed, a great deal of land in the Frederick area. The Rocky Springs parcel came via his parents Valentine Doub and Esther Kemp. Miss Kemp was the daughter of Rev. Peter Kemp, whose father, Frederick, built the house as I said earlier.
Frederick Kemp hosted Reformed Church conferences out of his house, held under the leadership of Pastor Philip William Otterbein. One such gathering, in the year 1800, served as the organization meeting for the impetus of the United Brethren in Christ. I guess you could say that the U.B. Church had its "baptism" in the Rocky Spring which feeds Carroll Creek.
It comes as no surprise that Frederick Kemp's son, Peter Kemp, would become a United Brethren minister, and several religious pilgrimages would be made to this vicinity into the future by church leaders and others.
As for Capt. Ezra Doub, he produced farm implements through his operation of the Vulcan Iron Works on East Patrick Street at the site of the later Union Knitting Mills. Doub also served as president of the Junior Fire Company, #2 from 1851-1856, and was also a Whig candidate for the Maryland General Assembly. The captain would relocate to Baltimore in the early, 1860's and just a few years later experienced a "shock of paralysis," which would debilitate him until his death in 1881.
Eventually religious services were held on Sundays in the Rocky Springs one-room schoolhouse located a half mile north on Rocky Springs Road. This structure was built in the late 1830's and still survives today. A formal chapel came to fruition in 1882, and both of these important buildings serve as priceless links to our area's rich German-Swiss settlement heritage. The above mentioned Rocky Springs Chapel non-profit organization focuses on this fact, and is under the leadership of a fine group of folks including Debby Moon and her mother JaNeen Smith. Many may recall that Mrs. Smith was the first director of our National Museum of Civil War History. To learn more about the Rocky Springs area, not to mention ongoing preservation projects and efforts, check out the Historic Rocky Springs Chapel Inc. website.
The group has turned their attention of late to the Rocky Springs Cemetery, which has come under encroachment by new housing development activity. The cemetery began as the family burying plot for the Kemps dating to the 1700's, and still remains in use. This makes it the oldest cemetery in the City of Frederick. The Kemp family name yielded to the name of Rocky Springs Cemetery, however the family moniker lives on through another nearby thoroughfare—Kemp Lane. The Doub name has also been associated to this cemetery as well.
This old Kemp and Doub homestead would make its way into Dr. Waters' hands in 1857. A detailed description of the house and property is featured in the equity papers of Frederick County connected to Dr. Waters after his death.
Land - "Rocky Spring", 220+ acres; from Ezra DOUB (executor of Valentine DOUB and trustee of Valentine DOUB Jr) and William H. DOUB (executor of Joshua DOUB who was an heir of Valentine DOUB) in 1857. Adjoins tracts, "County Seat", David KEMP's "Safest Way". Mortgaged to Ezra DOUB, surviving executor of William DOUB and trustee of Esther DOUB, widow of William DOUB, in 1857. Improvements were 2-story stone house of nine rooms and kitchen attached with a first-rate cellar under the house and kitchen; a tenant house near the mansion of five rooms; two dairies, summer and winter; large stone Switzer barn with stabling underneath for 12 horses and 12 cattle; a double corn house, storing up to 300 barrels of corn with granary above it to store 1500 bushes of grain; wagon shed to accommodate two wagons and other vehicles; hog pen with crib above to hold 75 barrels of corn; fine carriage house to house two carriages; a smoke house, blacksmith shop, well within six yards of the kitchen and large spring near the barnyard and running water to supply the stock of the entire farm; also an orchard of choice fruit.
The death of his wife likely prompted Dr. Waters to make his town house a primary residence. The house and farm would be auctioned off in 1859. For years Dr. Waters played a major role in local and state politics. He was active in the Democratic party serving as part of the county and state's leadership for the highly controversial Presidential election of 1860. He also was quite vocal throughout the Presidential Election of 1860, and meetings challenging representation for the state in secession-based hearings.
William Waters would unexpectedly join his wife and children in the family plot at Mount Olivet Cemetery. This would occur just two months before Gen. Robert E. Lee would cross the waters of the Potomac to the Maryland shore and bring his Confederate Army and leading officers to Frederick in early September, 1862. The following tributes clearly show the standing of Dr. William Waters in the Frederick community at the time of his passing.
In closing, I want to state that I have been unable to find Dr. Waters in the 1860 US Census, and any legitimate clue as to the identity of a second wife mentioned in the above obituary. My search continues!
I'd like to end this story inspired by rain, about a man named Waters, who actually lived near Rocky Spring which served as the baptismal font of the United Brethren religion with a H2O reference. It comes from another diary entry from the physician's trusted patron, Jacob Engelbrecht.
"Death, Doctor William Waters—This gentleman died of apoplexy last night a little before 9 o'clock. He had been nearly as well as usual & had just returned from visiting a patient & was sitting on the sofa in the passage talking with his wife, when in raising from his seat he staggered & fell down and instantly expired. He will be buried this evening at 6 o'clock as they cannot keep him longer. No ice in town, none got last winter."
-July 8th, 1862