Prince George's County, Maryland
Colonial mansions of Maryland and Delaware
By John Martin Hammond
Published by J.B. Lippincott company, 1914
OAKLANDS (Contee Station)
MOUNT AIRY (Croome)
LAUREL, PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, MARYLAND
THE traveller, one hundred years ago, on the old Annapolis-Washington post-road, would have seen a very beautiful homestead near present-day Laurel, Prince George's County, Maryland. This was Montpelier, home of Nicholas Snowden, just over the county line from Anne Arundel County to Prince George's County and about halfway between the terminal cities of this much- traversed means of communication. Certainly he might have alighted and broken his journey, for the mansion-then an " old" house, as houses are familiarly reckoned-was one of the very hospitable homes of the state, with a long tradition of good living and comfort, and had sheltered many men, famous and humble alike. George Washington had spent nights there, even before the Annapolis-Washington-post road was built, before the guest was our great, austere " Father of His Country." And to-day, the old homestead still throws out protecting arms-though not over descendants of those who called it into being-as hospitable and as fine as when it was built. Beautifully preserved against the attacks of time, and finely maintained by its present owners, it is a splendid memorial of the days of the proprietary in Maryland.
The old post-road still stretches over hill and through the reedy marshes of the Patuxent Valley in which Montpelier is situated but, except for occasional stretches, it is not kept up and is but rarely travelled. About three or four miles farther along its course, you come to the site of Birmingham, another (and the original) Snowden stronghold in this part of Maryland which, after standing two hundred years, was burned (by a vandal's act, it is thought) in 1891.
Montpelier is situated on a hill-top and originally overlooked thousands of acres of its owner's land. Though the present estate does not go into great figures it is yet comfortably large. The house is of the familiar Maryland Georgian type of central building with wings; but it differs from others of its kind in two peculiar features-the roof line and the shape of the wings. The former is pointed, the lines of the roofs of wings and central building converging to a single upper focal point. While this sounds rather extravagant, the effect is very attractive. The wings themselves are semi-octagonal in shape, with the half octagon to the front, this and the Hammond House in Annapolis being the only colonial mansions in Maryland having such a distinction.
In front, and to the south side of the house, is the garden, one of the place's great charms nowadays. It has been splendidly kept up and the old English box has reached a gigantic height, forming long, shady lanes cool even in the hottest summer day. The major part of it is laid out in the form of a cross with circles on the arms. The trunk of the cross is a walk leading to the front door, where there is a large porch extremely comfortable, though, undoubtedly, the addition of recent years. The garden contains a very quaint summer- house where, tradition asserts, Major Herbert courted his bride, one of the Snowden daughters, and which might very well have been the setting for many sentimental interludes.
The back of the house has a great deal of charm, chiefly because of the beautiful doorway which graces the central portion of its expanse. The door now bears a von Schrader coat-of-arms and knocker in place of the old knocker it bore in early days, but in all other aspects the back of the house is much as it must have been a hundred years ago. Ivy frames the windows and was so thick when its present owners acquired the property that, literally, cart-loads of it were cut off and carried away. At the corner of the right wing of the house, is a great bell on a high post, used in old days to call the field hands up to the great house when the master wished to speak to them. A circular driveway completes the picture.
Interiorly is found a very elaborately carved mantel in the dining-room, beautiful panelling in the sitting- room, a simple and elegant mantel in the parlour, many cupboards let into the walls at odd places, including a fine china cupboard, and huge wrought-brass door hinges and latches,-the only existing instance of the use of wrought-brass for these purposes in colonial Maryland. The arrangement of the rooms is simple- a broad hall from front to back of the building, the stairs set off from the middle of the hall and running with it, and the rooms symmetrically disposed on either side. Words fail to describe, however, the brightness and cheeriness of the whole interior of the old mansion, especially of the hall on a summer's day with both big doors open, the wind sweeping through and a view here, of the quaint old garden, and, there, of the gravelled driveway, the ancient dignified trees and the blue distance of hills beyond. One of the great charms of Montpelier is its trees, as it is blessed with an abundance of magnificent old oaks.
The foundations of the mansion were laid somewhere between 1740 and 1770 by Thomas Snowden, son of Richard (the " iron-master," as he styles himself in his will), son of Richard, son of Richard the Immigrant. We cannot be sure of a more definite date because the first formal division of the Snowden lands in Prince George's County was not made until 1790, when a deed of partition inter partibus was recorded, and so there are no records. This seems a curious circumstance from several standpoints; for one thing, it points to the fact that the family, which had been seated in this country for over a hundred years, lived in entire amity up to this time without recourse to law or courts for disposition of its affairs. Perhaps the fact that, up to a late date, the Snowdens were Quakers may explain the quiet conduct of their affairs over their own hearth-stones.
Montpelier was built by the aforesaid Thomas, born 1722, died 1770, and was greatly added to by his son, Major Thomas, of the Maryland line. The elder Thomas, tradition tells us, was sober, simple in tastes and something of a recluse, while the son was more fond of the bright things of the world. Thomas, the elder, built the substantial central portion of Montpelier. Thomas, the younger, added the beautiful wings and the interior decoration of the whole.
This Thomas Snowden, the younger-better known as " Major" Thomas, from his services during the Revolution-was born in 1751, at Montpelier, and died in 1803. He married Ann Ridgely, a great heiress, and after his wedding was so plentifully supplied with this world's goods that the members of the Quaker congregation of which he was a part, forbade him to come to meeting. To placate them, he liberated one hundred negro slaves and was then allowed to worship with his brethren. Says Lawrence Buckler Thomas, the faithful chronicler of the Thomas family and its connections, of Major Thomas Snowden:
He lived at Montpelier which was on the great Northern and Southern Post-road, and entertained great numbers of people who were then continually passing upon it, and in accordance with the hospitable customs of the day, would not hesitate to stop at his residence for the night. Washington, himself, once spent the night there, and the bed in which he slept is still preserved.
Ann Ridgely Snowden, the devoted wife of Major Thomas Snowden, died thirty-one years after her husband, on Good Friday of 1834, having had issue: Richard, who married Eliza Warfield; Thomas, a bachelor; Mary, who married Col. John Carlyle Herbert, of Walnut Grange, Virginia, and whose great- granddaughter, Mrs. Carlyle Herbert Hooff, lives at Oaklands; Nicholas, who married Elizabeth Warfield Thomas, and inherited Montpelier; and Caroline, who died unmarried.
Nicholas, the next owner of the old home, was born at Montpelier, October 21, 1786, and died March 8, 1831. His wife, Elizabeth Warfield Thomas-to whom he was married October 7, 1806-died at Avondale, Maryland, June 16, 1866. He left the following children: Ann Elizabeth, who married, first, Francis M. Hall, second, Charles Hill; Louisa, who married Col. Horace Capron, and made her home in Chicago; Julianna Maria, who married Dr. Theodore Jenkins, of Baltimore, and inherited the homestead; Adeline, who married Walter W. W. Bowie; Edward, who married Mary Thomas Warfield; Dr. De Wilton, who married Emma C. Capron; Henry, who married Mary Cournan; Elizabeth, who entered a convent in Georgetown, D. C.; and Emily Roseville, who married Charles C. Hill. Descendant sons and daughters of these unions have taken prominent places in many states.
Ann Elizabeth Snowden's second husband, Charles Hill, was the father of Charles C. Hill, who married her sister, Emily Roseville Snowden, and she did not marry the second time until after her second husband's son had married her sister. What relation were her children by her second marriage to her sister's children? Her husband's children were younger than his grandchildren, it is plain; and other aspects of this interesting genealogical problem will be discovered upon reflection.
Julianna Snowden, who married Dr. Theodore Jenkins, was the inheritor of Montpelier, and was a woman of fine intellectual endowment and great strength of purpose. She was married at Montpelier, June 23, 1835, and after her husband's death at the homestead, December 15, 1866, managed the entire large estate. Her children were: Theodore, born April 19, 1838, killed at the battle of Cedar Mountains, Virginia, August 9, 1862; Elizabeth Snowden, Louis William, born June 16, 1842; Francis Xavier, born September 29, 1844, and lives in Baltimore; Mary Eliza, born November 5,1846, and lives in Washington, D. C.; Ann Louisa, and Arthur.
Since the death of Mrs. Jenkins, the beautiful property has passed through many hands. It was left by her will to her children and was, later, in the possession of W. P. Davis and Martin W. Chollar as speculative investors until, in 1895, it was purchased by Mrs. Josephine D. Taylor, of New York, for a summer home. In 1900, Lewis H. Blakeman, of New York, acquired the title, from whom in 1906, it went to Edmund H. Pendleton, a writer, of New York, who lived there until his death in 1910. In 1911 it was purchased from the Pendleton estate by Otto V. von Schrader, of St. Louis, its present owner, whose family consists of his wife, a married son, Atreus Hargadine von Schrader, and a grandson, Atreus Hargadine, Jr.
In its present hands the old homestead belongs to those capable of understanding its traditions and of continuing them.
OAKLANDS (with notes on other Snowden homes)
CONTEE STATION, PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, MARYLAND
SNOWDEN - CONTEE - BOLLING - HOOFF
ON the crest of a hill overlooking Contee, Prince George's County, .Maryland, stands Oaklands, one jof the Snowden homes, now the property of Mr. Charles R. Hooff, a Virginian by birth, whose wife?a daughter of the late Gen. James R. Herbert, C. S. A.?is a descendant of the family which called the solid old homestead into being; though, when Mr. Hooff acquired its title, in 1911, it had passed from the direct line of its founders. The house is a sturdy brick structure distinguished on the exterior by fine front and back doorways and by the excellence of its brickwork, whose customary monotony is varied by the use of heavy, glazed " headers," the secret of the making of which is believed to have passed away. In the rear of the house, which faces west, is a charming, crumbling garden with broken terraces, whence may be had a delightful view of the tree-clad hills from which the estate took its name. The place had gone through various stages of ruin before Mr. Hooff took it in hand, even to having its window weights and the top-soil of the garden sold. For the rehabilitation of the home Mr. Hooff has made, and is carrying out, extensive plans, all of them based primarily on the desire to have it, when these are finished, as near as possible as it was when it was new.
The arrangement of the house on the inside is simple: a broad hallway from front to back divides it in the middle and there is a small wing to the south in which there are kitchen, pantry and servants' rooms. An exceedingly sunny and beautiful staircase leads from the hall at the rear, extending half the width of the house. Its entrance and its point of departure from the hall are marked by two graceful, classic arches placed on the transverse and longitudinal lines of the house, respectively. The stair is broken by a landing on which stands a Fairfax clock, a relic of the famous Lord Fairfax, of Virginia, Washington's patron, and one of Mrs. Hooff's maternal forebears. The rooms are notable for their high ceilings and good proportion, the parlour, in especial, being very charming with high- wainscoted walls, and simple cornice. In the dining- room, is a corner cupboard, which takes every feminine heart, and in the sitting-room adjoining are the remains of a secret staircase which led from this room to the master's bedroom above.
In the old days, this sitting-room was used as a card- room and the following story is told of it: It seems that at one period the Lord of Misrule held sway in this house?as he has in almost every old home in Maryland ?and during his reign, one evening, a furious and boisterous game of cards was in progress in this room. High stakes were on, the players were all heated and red with wine when suddenly one of them was summoned away by a message that could not be put aside. His going would mean the breaking up of the game.
"We would play with the Devil if he took your place," declared the host and his guests with loud oaths.
They were seated in confusion when there came a knock at the door. Entered a tall, slim man whom no one there recognized.
" May I take the vacant place? " he asked.
" Sit down," replied the host, " though we don't know your name."
Again play waxed furious. The stranger played in an incredible streak of luck. Morning came and went and afternoon and evening and still the game went on, each player seeming to be bound to his seat by some irresistible force. At last the unknown had won every dollar of each man sitting at the table and the hypothecation of every valuable they possessed. He arose to go but turned at the door to bow farewell. Sharpened by distress, the weary eyes of the men at the table noted plainly the outline of a forked tail beneath the back of his coat as he bent over, and, on his departure, a smell of brimstone clung about the room for a long time.
In each of the rooms of the house, is a broad fireplace set across the corner of the room farthest from the door. This gives an exceedingly homelike atmosphere to the house in winter, and, indeed, one of its great distinctions at all seasons is its general air of sunny good cheer. The windows are full five panes across and high in proportion.
Oaklands was inherited by Richard Snowden from his father, Major Thomas Snowden, of Montpelier, which is situated nearby, and to it he took his bride, Eliza Warfield, of Bushby Park, Howard County, when he was married, February 13, 1798. After the death of his first wife, he married her sister, Louisa Victoria Warfield, of Bushby Park?no mean tribute from a man to his wife's family.
The estate extended from the boundaries of Montpelier, on the south, well up into the present Howard County, Maryland, and embraced more than two thousand acres. Its master had no children by his second marriage. The issue of the first has begotten a large and active connection. Ann Louisa, the eldest child, who inherited the homestead, married Capt. John Contee; Col. Thomas Snowden, the eldest son, married Ann Rebecca Nicholls and had Sara Rebecca Nicholls, who married Capt. Charles Marshall of Baltimore; Caroline Eliza married Albert Fairfax, of Northampton, Prince George's County, Maryland, father of the late John Contee Fairfax, first of the name after the Revolution to assume the title of Lord Fairfax? the only certified English title in the United States?and grandfather of Albert, present Lord Fairfax; Emily Roseville married Col. Timothy P. Andrews, U. S. A., of Baltimore; and Richard Nicholls married Elizabeth Ridgely Warfield.
The children of Ann Louisa Contee, inheritor of the homestead, included eight daughters and two sons: Charles Snowden Contee, who married Betty Boiling; and Richard, who married Anna Boiling, Betty's sister. These sons were the last of the family in a direct line from the builder to occupy the home. In 1878 the place was bought by trustees of the Boiling estate and at the death of Richard Contee's wife, six years ago, it was sold to John Dominick Boiling, nephew of the Boiling sisters. In 1912, it was purchased by Mr. Hooff.
Concerning the origin of the Snowden family in Maryland, we may read to advantage Lawrence Buckler Thomas' notes on the Thomas family:
Richard Snowden, of Wales, who is said to have held a Major's commission under Oliver Cromwell, came to Maryland in the seventeenth century. His son, Richard, is mentioned as a well-known owner of land in Maryland, near South River, in a deed dated October 13, 1679. August 1, 1686, a tract of land called " Robin Hood's Forest," and containing 10,500 acres, was granted to him. He was living October 13, 1688, when William Parker deeds to him certain land for a consideration of 306 pounds. In 1704, he was still living but died soon after that date.
Richard Snowden, son of this Richard, married Mary Waters?of the family of which Dr. Franklin Waters and his sisters, of West River, Maryland, are descendants?and became a large land-holder and iron- founder, adding more than ten thousand acres to the large tract of land already his by virtue of inheritance from his father. In partnership with Edmund Jennings, of Annapolis, John Galloway and Jacob Cowman, of Anne Arundel County, and John Pritchard, of London, he built in Prince George's County, on the Patuxent, the first ironworks ever operated in Maryland. Not far from his forges on the Patuxent and near the present-day city of Laurel, Maryland, he erected his manor-house Birmingham, which stood in fine preservation until 1890, a superb example of early building, when it was destroyed by fire.
Richard Snowden, the third, son of Richard, the second, married first, in 1709, Eliza, daughter of William and Eliza Coale, and four years after her death, in 1713, married, second, Elizabeth, daughter of Samuel and Mary Hutchins Thomas. He lived at Birmingham and, following the lines his father had laid down, became one of the most influential and affluent men of his generation. At his death, 1763, he was sole owner of the ironworks his father established and was building a new forge not far from the old one on the Patuxent.
Mr. Julius Snowden, a direct descendant of this Richard, who lives in a home he has built on the site of old Birmingham, found a chimney-back near the river on the site of one of these foundries which is a very curious object. It bears the date 1738 in old-fashioned numerals and, in script equally quaint, on a line below, the word " Potuxon." Beneath this line is a third bearing a capital " O " intertwined with a heart, though just what this means no one has been able to assert; possibly a trade-mark used by the builder of the foundries.
The children of Richard Snowden, the third, by his first wife were: Deborah, who married James Brooke, of Sandy Spring, Maryland?ancestor of Dr. James Brooke, of Sandy Spring; Eliza, who married John Thomas; and Mary, who married Samuel Thomas. By his second wife, his children were: Richard Thomas, who married Mary Wright and was the father of Major Thomas Snowden, of Montpelier, and grandfather of Richard Snowden of Oaklands; Ann, who married Henry Wright Crabbe; Margaret; Samuel, who married Elizabeth, daughter of Philip and Ann Chew Thomas, and who built the quaint old homestead now occupied by Mr. Jeremiah McCawley and wife; Elizabeth, who married Joseph Cowman, descendants of whom are in Baltimore; and John, who inherited Birmingham.
John Snowden was the youngest child and seems to have been his parents' favorite, for in his father's will, drawn shortly before his death in 1763, it was specified that he should stay at home so as to keep his mother company and that if he should marry and wish to have a home of his own, he should be given land near the manor-house, which at his mother's death he was to inherit, and to be allowed to erect a small house at the expense of the estate. He did build for himself before his mother's death, though he did not marry until late in life, and the little frame building which he caused to be put up?built in the substantial fashion of even the smallest homes of that day?is still standing near the site of Birmingham after that stately pile has been vanquished by the elements. He did not marry until forty years old, and this fact, coupled with his being the youngest of a large family, makes his descendants almost two generations nearer the founder of the family than descendants of any other branch. He married Rachel, daughter of Gerard and Mary Hall Hopkins, and had seven children, only two of whom had issue. These were Rachel, who married Judge John S. Tyson; and Rezin Hammond Snowden, the youngest son, born in 1796, who inherited Birmingham, and married, in 1829, Margaret, daughter of John McFadon, a rich merchant of Baltimore, who left an estate largely invested in Baltimore city property.
Rezin Hammond Snowden, who lived at Birmingham, died in 1858, leaving seven children, of whom Maria Louise, born in 1843, married Professor Alfred M. Mayer, the distinguished scientist and has children living in Brooklyn, New York; John, the eldest son, married Sarah E. Hopkins, and had a son John who lives at Snowden Hall, near Laurel, Maryland, and a daughter, Mrs. Charles H. Stanley of Laurel; William, inheritor of Birmingham, married Adelaide, daughter of Dr. Gustavus Warfield, of Howard County, Maryland.
Birmingham never went out of the line of the family. Julius, son of William, and inheritor of the estate, has built on the site of the old manor-house and lives in this new home with his family which consists of his wife (who was Miss Estell Bird) and her sister, Miss Anna C. Bird.
To retrace a few steps in Snowden genealogy, Thomas Snowden, of Montpelier, father of Major Thomas, and son of Richard, the third of the name, had a son Richard who built Fairlands, the last of the old Snowden homes that we shall record, now occupied by Dr. Leonard Robert Coates, originally of Coatesville, Pennsylvania, and of the family which gave that place its name, who married Miss Boarman, daughter of the previous owner. He has three children: Roberta, who, in 1910, married W. W. Easterday, of Washington, D. C.; Robert Boarman and Dorothy Wetherill, aged sixteen. The builder of Fairlands died shortly after his marriage and was soon followed to the grave by his wife, who was Elizabeth Rutland. Their orphan daughter, Mary, was brought up at her uncle's home, Montpelier, and because of the large estate in her own right was considered a great catch in marriage. She married John Chew Thomas, of Leiperville, Pennsylvania, brother of Evan William Thomas, the then owner of Whitby Hall, Philadelphia.
CROOME, PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, MARYLAND
CALVERT - DUVALL
IN a grove of great oaks in southern Maryland is a royal old homestead deep in colourful memories of the past. This is Mount Airy, the Calvert mansion, near Croome, Prince George's County, Maryland, the seat of the descendants of Lord Baltimore in the United States. A popular picnic point for automobile parties from Washington now, the place has sheltered many notable people and has been the scene of many a brilliant social gathering. Here Washington's stepson, George Parke Custis, found his bride, Eleanor Calvert, and lived out the brief span of his life. Here, too, Washington was a frequent visitor even before the Revolution?it is not a long day's journey from Mount Vernon.
Standing before the door of the old home, we can imagine the great coaches of our great-grandfathers, requiring four or six horses to move them?and uncomfortable then?lumbering up through the long aisle of high trees and discharging their polite and elegant freight; for Mount Airy was a centre of hospitality of the old Maryland order where a guest came at his will and stayed for a day, or weeks, as he chose. What an alluring gossip of picturesque figures might the house chat in its old man's tone if it could 1
In the halls of the old home the romantic figure of Eleanor Calvert, the bride of young Custis, can be pictured. She was a great horsewoman, and frequently hunted over the country-side. Glimpses of her beauty have been preserved in miniatures and in an old painting which, until a few years ago, hung at Mount Airy. During Washington's occupancy of the White House she was a frequent visitor, and there is a painting of Mrs. Washington in which Eleanor is shown, a beautiful figure, to the elder woman's right.
We may not see her young husband so clearly through the mists of time. A delicate gentleman, he lived only five years after his marriage, and died at the age of twenty-eight years, leaving four children. He was married February 3, 1774, in the parlour of Mount Airy. A glimpse of him we have in the following letter written by Washington to the boy's tutor: " I will allow you an extra sixty dollars for your pains with Parke. I want you to be good to him for he is a most promising lad, the last of his family, and will have a large fortune at maturity. I wish to make him a useful man." He was buried in the family lot at Mount Airy.
Eleanor was married a second time to Dr. David Stuart, of Virginia, and went to this sister state of Maryland to live, thus passing from our scene.
Of the builder of Mount Airy we do not know very much. At his death he was described in the following terms in the Maryland Journal and Advertiser, January 15, 1788: " A gentleman whose Benevolence of Heart and many other exalted Virtues justly endeared him to his Relations and a numerous and respectable Acquaintance, who have sustained an irreparable loss by his death."
There is mystery concerning a great part of Benedict Calvert's life. That he was a son of Charles Calvert, fifth Lord Baltimore, is well known, but who his mother was, or where he was born, has never been recorded. As a young man he was sent to Annapolis to the home of Dr. George Steuart, of that city, with a tutor, Onorio Razolini. We find him addressed by his father in the following fashion in a letter, dated February 7, 1745:
You will by this Opportunity receive Duplicates of a Commission with the proper Instructions from, ye proper Offices Appointing you Collector of Patuxent in ye Room of Rousby, deceased, and I make no doubt but you will do Your Utmost to Execute it to the Utmost of your Power, and I must desire you will get ye most able to Aid and Assist you, and I hope you will Endeavor to get Mr. Jennings to help you and that You'll give him such Encouragement as may make it worth his while.
I desire you will Consult with Mr. Bladen and Mr. Tasker. I shall Omit no Opportunity of doing all in my Power to show how much I am
Somewhat later we find that His Lordship writes:
" Pray do not think of Marrying till you hear from me having some things to Propose to you, much for your Advantage, and believe me I will never force Your Inclination, Only Propose what I think will make you most Happy, Afterwards Leave it to Your own Determination."
That a wife was chosen to suit the lordly, far-away parent, is shown by a letter from him in 1748 to Razol- ini, the tutor, expressing approval of his son's intended venture upon matrimony. About the same time he wrote to the young man himself, telling him to take in charge certain lands on the Patuxent which he designed for him. On April 21 of that year, Benedict was married to Elizabeth Calvert, his distant cousin, daughter of Charles Calvert, Governor of Maryland from 1720 to 1727. The ceremony was performed by the Reverend John Gordon, rector of St. Anne's Parish, Annapolis, in the presence of Mr. Onorio Razolini, Mrs. Elizabeth Razolini and Miss Ariana Brice, and is thus recorded in the Maryland Gazette for April 27, 1748: " Last Thursday the Honourable Benedict Calvert, Esq., Collector of His Majesty's customs for Patuxent District, etc., was married to Miss Elizabeth Calvert, only surviving Daughter of the late Honourable Charles Calvert, Esq., deceased, former Governor of this province."
Before his marriage, young Calvert had entered upon his duties as collector of the Port of Patuxent and had taken up his residence upon the lands on that river given to him by his father. It was not until three years after his marriage that he acquired full title to the Mount Airy property, and then it was by transfer through an intermediary, Ignatius Digges, Esq., as is witnessed by the following deed, one of the records of the Provincial Court for the Western Shore, in the Land Record office at Annapolis:
This indenture made the third day of June, 1761, between Ignatius Digges, of Prince George's County, in the Province of Maryland, Gentleman, of the one part and Benedict Calvert of the City of Annapolis and Province aforesaid of the other part. Whereas, by indentures of lease and release bearing date respectively on or about the Seventeenth and Eighteenth days of February, 1745, made between Samuel Hyde, late of London, Merchant by the name of Samuel Hyde of Rood Lane, London, Merchant, of the one part and Charles, Lord Baltimore, of the other part, he the said Samuel Hyde did grant and confirm unto him the said Charles, Lord Baltimore, all that Plantation called " His Lordship's Kindness" containing by estimation Six Thousand, Seven Hundred acres of land, and also all that other Plantation called and known by the name of the several tracts containing by Estimation, Two thousand Five hundred Acres,? unto the said Charles, Lord Baltimore, his heirs and assigns, forever. And whereas, the aforesaid two tracts of land were on the twenty-ninth day of June, 1750, by the direction of the said Charles, Lord Baltimore, sett up to Publick Vendue by Auction at which sale the said Ignatius Digges was the highest bidder at Seven Hundred and Sixty Pounds, Sterling, for the first mentioned tract and at Seven Hundred and Ten Pounds, Sterling, for the last mentioned tract. Now this indenture Witnesseth that the said Ignatius Digges in consideration of One Thousand, Four Hundred and Seventy Pounds (being the total of the aforesaid sums of money) Doth grant and confirm unto the said Benedict Calvert all those above-mentioned Plantations, all which premises are in Prince George's County on a River called Patuxen, in the Proprietary of Maryland, on the continent of America, and are part of certain Land and Premises released and conveyed by Henry Darnall, late of Prince George's County in Maryland aforesaid, to John Hyde, deceased, the father of a certain Samuel Hyde, late of London, Merchant, deceased, together with all Messuages etc., unto him the said Benedict Calvert, his heirs and assigns forever.
In witness whereof the partys to these presents have hereunto interchangeably set their hands and seals the day and year firest above written.
Signed and sealed in the presence of Chas. Hammond and Sam. Chamberlaine.
In 1751, Benedict Calvert commenced to build Mount Airy and completed it without interruption. Here he lived until his death in 1788. He was buried under the chancel of St. Thomas' Church, Croome, Prince George's County, which he had helped to found and support. Ten years later he was followed to the grave by his wife. At the outbreak of the Revolution, he had given up his post of Collector of Customs of Patuxent, and his latter years were years of leisure.
At the death of its builder, Mount Airy was left to his wife, on her death to go to the oldest living son, Edward Henry, born November 7, 1766, married March 1,1796, and died July 12,1846. Edward Henry (Calvert) left the estate to his widow, who died March 26, 1857, and by her will the property, now shrunk to about a thousand acres, was to be divided among her children. Two of these children, however, Cecih'us Baltimore and Eleanora Adela, bought out the interest of all of the other children, and made it their home until they died; the former, March 13, 1901, and the latter, July 15, 1902, aged ninety-five and eighty-one years, respectively. These were the last Calvert owners. After the death of " old Miss Eleanor " the home and furnishings were sold at auction, the house being purchased February, 1903, by Mrs. Tillie R. Duvall, its present occupant. The property was described in the auctioneer's catalogue in the following terms:
This beautiful old place now contains about eight hundred and twenty acres of fine grazing, or farming land, well watered by natural springs, having a beautiful lake containing about ten acres, well stocked with fish. About two hundred acres of the land is covered with a natural growth of old oaks and other choice varieties of native trees.
Death in a tragic shape was the portion of the last of the Calverts of Mount Airy. Miss Eleanor Calvert was accustomed to use an old-fashioned oil lamp, which her relatives warned her was not safe. One night it turned over in her hand as she was descending the steps, spilled oil over her clothing and set it ablaze. The old lady died from the injuries. She was beloved and respected by her neighbours, and was very fond of children. During her later years she kept the old house full of little ones?her nieces, nephews, great-nieces, great- nephews and little cousins, even to the third and fourth generation.
Six years after the marriage of Eleanor Calvert to George Parke Custis, another brilliant wedding took place in the little parlour of Mount Airy. It was that of Elizabeth, a younger daughter, who was wed, June 15, 1780, to Dr. Charles Steuart, of Annapolis, son of that Dr. George Steuart in whose home Benedict Calvert lived. In Mount Airy, too, was celebrated Eleanor's second marriage.
The children of Benedict Calvert, the founder, and his wife Elizabeth, were: Rebecca, who died in infancy; Eleanor, who married first, February 3, 1774, George Parke Custis, stepson of George Washington, second, 1783, Dr. David Stuart, of Virginia; Charles, who remained unmarried; Elizabeth, who married, June 15, 1780, Dr. Charles Steuart, of Annapolis, Maryland; Edward Henry, who married, March 1,1796, Elizabeth Biscoe, daughter of George and Araminta Carroll Biscoe; George, who married, June 11, 1799, Rosalie Eugenia Stier, daughter of Henri Joseph and Marie Louise Stier, of Antwerp, Belgium; Philip, Leonard, Cecilius, Robert, John, William, and Ariana. Of this last seven, the first four died in youth; the last three did not marry.
The tragedy of Ariana Calvert's life is one of the most pathetic stories connected with the historic old mansion. She loved a young man who had been received at her father's house, but was not looked upon with favour as the daughter's prospective husband. Trusting to time to soften her father's heart, she waited patiently, and the father, on his part, tried by every indulgence to turn the thoughts of his daughter from her lover. She was sent to Annapolis for a visit and in the company of her brilliant sisters to every fete in town and country. Many suitors pressed their claims for her hand but for all she had a gentle refusal. She began to fade and droop and her health broke down. Her father died and her mother, seeing that her child was facing death, gave her consent to the engagement. But it was too late. The fine spirit had been tried too long, and death bore it away.
The issue of George Parke Custis and Eleanor Cal- vert (the first wedding in the Calvert house) was: Eliza Parke, born August 21,1776, married, March 20, 1796, to Thomas Law, secretary to Warren Hastings in India, and has descendants?Martha, born December 31,1777, who married, January 6,1795, Thomas Peter a wealthy merchant of Georgetown, D. C., and has descendants, many of them in Washington; Eleanor Parke, born March 21,1779, who married, February 22,1799, Major Lawrence Lewis, and has descendants; George Washington Parke, born April 30, 1781, who married Mary Fitzhugh, of Arlington, Virginia, whose daughter, Mary Randolph Custis Parke, born October 1, 1806, married, June 30, 1831, Robert E. Lee, commander-in-chief of the armies of the Confederacy.
By her marriage to Dr. Stuart, Eleanor had seven children, four of whom married, leaving a large descent.
George Calvert, the only other son of Benedict to have issue, built, in 1802, another beautiful homestead at Riverdale, Maryland, about sixteen miles north of Croome, more magnificent in size and decoration than Mount Airy; and this place, which is more accessible by rail to visitors than the older homestead, is often mistaken for that other dwelling house. His children were: Caroline Maria, born July 15, 1800, who married Thomas Willing Morris, of Philadelphia; George Henry, born January 2,1803, who married, May, 1821, Elizabeth Steuart, and died without issue, May 24,1889; Marie Louise Calvert; Rosalie Eugenia, born October 19, 1806, who married Charles Henry Corter; Charles Benedict, born August 23, 1808, who married Charlotte Augusta Norris; Henry Albert; Marie Louise, Julie, born January 31,1814, who married Dr. Richard Henry Stuart; Amelia Isabelle. The homestead at Riverdale remained in the family until December 5, 1904, when it, too, was sold at auction, the purchaser being its present occupant, W. T. Pickford, a prominent business man of Washington.
The children of Edward Henry Calvert and Elizabeth Biscoe, his wife, forming the last generation of Calverts at Mount Airy, were: Benedict; George, who married Sarah E. Hungerford; Edward Henry, who married Mary Powell; Charles Frederick; Washington Custis, who married, first, Sophia O. Mulliken, second, Elizabeth S. Randolph; Cecelius Baltimore; John, who married Julia Stockton Rush; Elizabeth; William B., who married Mary Harriet Hughes; Araminta; Octavius Augustus; Juliana; Eleanora Adela. John Calvert had two children: John Calvert, of Philadelphia, whose son is Cecelius Baltimore Calvert, of Philadelphia, and Madison Rush Calvert. Roberta Lee Calvert, the youngest daughter of George, married T. C. Judkins, and lives in San Francisco. She has a son, Robert Calvert Judkins.
Interesting recollections of Mount Airy have been written by Mrs. Eleanora Calvert Wilson, daughter of William Calvert, and who spent her childhood at the old place.
My father, William, the youngest of these nine sons, was the first to bring his young bride, according to the custom of the day, to this old house, and here my sister and I were born, and still another generation of little girls chased the butterflies from flower to flower, hunted the birds in their nests, and the woods sent back the echoes of merry prattle and joyous song once more. We were not so decorous and well disciplined, I fear, as the former generations of little people had been, for we had so many indulgent uncles to spoil us.
Hand in hand they would walk with us through the orchard every morning gathering for us the choicest fruits, such delicious peaches, grapes, pears and great, red-cheeked apples!
How well I remember old " Aunt Polly," the octogenarian negress who had nursed or assisted in the nursing of these other little girls, often reducing us to order by saying:
" My little misses never did so; they were little ladies."
" So are we, Aunt Polly," we would indignantly reply.
" Then you must behave like them," was always Aunt Polly's strong argument. She was at that time too old for actual service, so with a silk cloth in her hand she passed from room to room removing any dust that had settled upon the handsome mahogany furniture. Occasionally, Aunt Polly would doze and mechanically rub one spot for a long time. Coming upon her sometimes at these moments we would mischievously startle her by asking, " Why, Aunt Polly, what are you doing? " Recovering her consciousness quickly she would put additional force into her labour and answer with great placidity, " Just a little fine polishing, Honey."
Sometimes we would quietly slip the cloth from her hand and conceal it before awakening her and enjoy her look of amazement when she couldn't find it. " Oh, Aunt Polly, you were asleep that time," we would say. " Well, Honey, I do think I must have been," she would reply with one of her placid smiles.
My grandmother would have liked to have her remain in her quarters, and would have cared for her, but poor old Aunt Polly was so afraid of being considered " old and worthless " that she would not consent to it.
Old Neale, too, the coachman, could not tolerate the idea of having to give place to a younger man. " Why, I 'members the day when that boy was born," he said indignantly. Grandfather tried to comfort him by telling him that the new coachman would never be quite so fine as he had been. At this the old man straightened himself up in spite of his bent shoulders and a smile passed over his face as he said, " Well, Massa, there is sumpin' in dat."
By her marriage to Charles Steuart, Elizabeth Calvert, daughter of Benedict, had issue: George Calvert; Benedict; Edward Henry, who married Mary Wilcox; and Dr. Charles (Steuart) who married Ann Fitzhugh Biscoe, and a descendant of whom in Baltimore is Mr. Richard D. Steuart.
Perhaps it is the ghosts of the ancients whom we have considered that trouble Mount Airy to-day, for ghosts there are, the present owner will tell you. There is the time when with her husband Mrs. Duvall drove back from Washington, one dark night, and found a solitary horseman in the garb of a hundred years ago calmly sitting his horse in front of the door, at the end of the long aisle of trees. By the dim light of the stars they saw him inspecting them with a gaze, as if to say " What do you here?" and then he vanished. Again Mrs. Duvall has been awakened in the night by a ghostly woman's figure, which one midnight put its cold hands around her throat. There is a room above the dining- room in which no lamp will burn, the strongest, most ingeniously constructed lamp going out meekly the moment you cross the threshold with it. Doors open and shut without cause. Beds sag and creak with no human being on them.
Many of the colonial mansions of Maryland are larger than Mount Airy, many of them have more elaborate ornamentation, for this place has neither size nor elaboration to commend it, yet few have its charm. Its chief feature is a wing, considerably older than the body of the house?used as a hunting lodge by one of the early Lords Baltimore, tradition tells us?a long, low structure with dormer windows and a hip-roof, made of immense old English brick laid all with the ends out, the walls being nearly two feet thick. From the centre rear of this the main part of the house takes its departure. This main portion is simply a two-story edifice with two large pillars in front which support a gallery. It contains merely a hall, staircase and two rooms at the end opposite the wing. A cellar runs beneath the main building connecting with the more ancient cellar beneath the old hunting lodge or wing. In the former is a wine vault with high, arched ceiling; in the latter, an entrance to a secret passageway, which has not been explored in the memory of man. This passageway leads through the old foundation walls, five feet thick, to a point of exit, it is believed, near the old bowling green. The main body of the house is of brick covered with plaster; the wing is of brick exposed.
The approach to the old mansion is one of its greatest charms. The road leads straight from the gate about two hundred yards through an avenue of overarching old linden trees to a circle of box, immediately in front of the more modern portion of the house. To the right, lies a garden designed by Major L'Enfant, the designer of the plan for the city of Washington. Just a few steps from here, on a terrace overlooked by, and fronting on, the wing of the house, is the old bowling green, now a tennis court. There is more terracing in other parts of the grounds, and Major L'Enfant's garden containing many rare shrubs and flowers, is even to-day a very beautiful retreat.
When Mount Airy was sold in 1903, the many treasures which it contained were sold at an auction room in Washington. Among other things disposed of were a portrait supposed to be by Van Dyke, of Charles, fifth Lord Baltimore, in armour; a portrait of Benedict Leonard Calvert, fourth Lord Baltimore, who married Lady Charlotte Lee, granddaughter of King Charles II; a portrait of Benedict Calvert; a portrait of Eleanor Calvert in riding habit; other paintings; a set of silver, consisting of one coffee pot, two mugs, a set of casters and two small waiters, all bearing coat-of-arms and crest, and sent to Benedict by his father as a wedding present; and many other things of smaller value.
The present owner of Mount Airy, Mrs. Tillie R. Duvall, is an artist and musician by training, and is known to many in these arts. She was married in 1908, about five years after she had moved into the place, to Percy M. Duvall, of Croome, Prince George's County. One child, a girl, has blessed this union. The Duvalls have open house, and many friends from nearby Washington keep them from getting lonesome with the ghosts and solitudes of the old home.
PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, MARYLAND
OGLE - BOWIE - WOODWARD
A most magnificently maintained survival of the Georgian era of building in Maryland is unquestionably Belair, the old Ogle estate, now the occasional home of William Woodward, Esq., of New York City. Its present owner spares no pains to preserve the flavour of the olden time which clings around the beautiful structure and, at the same time, has so added to the building and grounds that the place is one of the most splendid in Maryland. It is situated in Prince George's County, not far from Bowie Station, a point on the Pennsylvania Railroad.
The house is situated on the crest of a hill, as were most of the mansions of the colonial period in Maryland, and commands a wide view. However hot and still the day may seem in the countryside around there is always a breeze stirring in its wide halls. As it stands to-day, it consists of a central building with wings, but the wings are a latter addition by its present-day owner, though in such perfect harmony with the rest of the building have they been fashioned that one needs must be told this fact to believe it. The grounds around the house are terraced and from the main doorway extends a mile-long aisle of great trees, memorials of an early day, indeed.
This approach to the front of the house Mr. Woodward has improved by an extension which carries it for a mile or more farther through his estate, so that now one drives for nearly two miles from the entrance to the place over a finely ballasted and smoothly topped roadway before one at last swings into the long, straight stretch between mammoth trees which leads to the old mansion itself.
The front and rear doorways of the house are simple but graceful, and the interior woodwork, while not elaborate, is beautified with carving. The stairway extends to the left from the front door and leads to a cool and well-disposed second floor. The outlook from the rear of the house is very fine, leading the eye over the old bowling green and the green terraces which lend dignity to this side of the house.
Belair belonged in the early part of the eighteenth century to Hon. Benjamin Tasker, who was one of the most important men in the then Province of Maryland. His daughter Anne, at the age of eighteen, married Governor Samuel Ogle, a captain of cavalry in His British Majesty's service, who had received from the Lord Proprietary a commission as Governor of Maryland, dated September 16, 1731. Belair was given to Governor Ogle and his bride by Benjamin Tasker, and
there the Ogles lived in princely style, their town house at Annapolis claiming their presence only during the social season. The estate then consisted of 3,600 acres. The mansion was spacious and elaborate for those days. It is said that six hundred acres were thrown into a park, and fallow deer were seen about the woodland. Belair had its race track, its kennels, and life was planned in every particular on the basis of the gentry of England. The Ogles lived as befitted their station, and drove to and from Annapolis, a distance of about twenty miles, with four-in-hand and liveried outriders, as has been noted from letters still in existence. Such was the early condition of the plantation, and it must have remained much the same during the next century as is evidenced by the condition of the house and grounds, and especially the long avenue of tulip trees immediately in front of the house which constantly added to the beauty and dignity of the landscape. Originally there must have been ninety-six of these trees planted on a straight avenue of five hundred yards leading to the house, in four parallel rows, making two turf-covered lanes over which the rider (and a very occasional vehicle) would approach. There are thirty-two of these now giant tulips remaining, one of the larger ones measuring over twenty feet in circumference, and with a height of more than ninety feet.
A part of Belair in the late seventies fell to the ownership of Governor Bowie, of Maryland, and finally to his sons, and some partition had by that time been made, when in the later years of the last century Mr. James T. Woodward, of New York and Maryland, purchased the estate and added to and improved it, as has also his nephew, William Woodward, who inherited it from him and now owns it. The Woodwards are from Anne Arundel County, but James T. Woodward's mother was a Magruder, of Prince George's County, and a substantial portion of what is now comprised in Belair is old Magruder land.Belair has to-day its own pack of hounds, and thoroughbred colts are seen grazing on its meadows.
Among the many distinguished men of Maryland none were of more distinguished lineage than Samuel Ogle, builder of Belair. The family was of old Saxon stock. This member of it received from the Lord Proprietary his commission as governor of the province of Maryland in September, 1731, and took oath of office in Annapolis in December of that same year. In 1741 he married Anne Tasker, who was but a child of nine years when he arrived in this country. Though there was this great disparity of age between Ogle and his wife, the marriage was, none the less, a happy one. Two of Anne Tasker's sisters, Elizabeth and Frances, married, respectively, Christopher Lowndes, forebear of the late Governor Lloyd Lowndes, of Maryland, and
Robert Carter, of Nominy Hall, Virginia. Her maternal uncle was that Thomas Bladen who was Governor of Maryland from 1742 to 1747 and of whose daughter Lord Chesterfield wrote as follows in a letter to his son: " Our friend, Harriet Bladen, with a fortune of 20,000 Pounds, is to be married to the Earl of Essex."
Benjamin Ogle, son of Samuel Ogle, became Governor of Maryland in 1809, and his son of the same name was the last Ogle to live at Belair.
Belair was the country home of Samuel Ogle and his Bladen bride. The town house in which they had their entertainments during " the season " is that quaint little old structure in Annapolis which stands at the corner of College Avenue and King George Street and is familiarly known in the ancient city as the Ogle House. A beautiful box-bordered walk and an arched doorway which no passerby fails to admire are almost all that remain of its one-time glories, yet its gardens were once very beautiful and its presence is always dignified by the flavour of the names with which it has been associated. Here, moreover, in 1840, Governor Benjamin Ogle, son of Samuel, died.
So great a lover of horses was Samuel Ogle that he built his stables in Annapolis beside the front walk of his house, so that he might always stop and see the animals upon which he lavished so much affection whenever he left or entered his home. He also imported from England the celebrated horse, " Spark," a gift from Lord Baltimore, to whom the horse had been presented by Prince Frederick, father of George III, of England. This stable has long since been torn down, but its existence will probably never be forgotten by those who know the traditions of Annapolis. The Ogle House is now a boarding-house for officers of the navy who are stationed at the Naval Academy hard at hand, and is part of the estate of the late Rear-Admiral Porter, U. S. N., retired.
ALL CONTENTS COPYRIGHT
GENEALOGY TRAILS 2009