American Historic Towns
Historic Towns of The Southern States
Edited by Lyman P. Powell
G. P. Putnam' Sons
New York and London
The Knickerbocker Press
FREDERICK TOWN " Clustered spires of Frederick " that rise from what the enamored Washington called "the garden spot of Maryland." "And ever the stars above look down
"THE GARDEN SPOT OF MARYLAND"
By SARA ANDREW SHAFER
LONG after the lower counties and the eastern shore of Maryland had been turned from a wilderness into a rich and prosperous country, and after Annapolis had grown to be one of the most brilliant and important cities of the New World, there lay in the western part of the domain granted to the Calverts and their heirs forever a vast and beautiful region, which was not only Terra Maria, but terra incognita as well. Noble mountains, the remains of far older and nobler Alps, guarded the valleys worn by innumerable streams, and rich with the detritus of uncounted ages of erosion. Vegetation flourished under the kindly skies, and green things of every kind, from loftiest oaks to humblest mosses, grew in rank luxuriance over the heritage of the wild creatures of earth and air, and the scarcely less wild Indians. The Susquehannoghs, who chiefly lorded it here, were of the fearless and noble Iroquois stock, and, whatever they lacked, had certainly "a genius for nomenclature." Their
"Love of lovely woods "
has left in one fair valley such names as Catoctin for its long western mountain range; Linganore for its eastward hills, and Potomac, Monocacy and Tuscarora for its rivers and streams. Vanished, like the red leaves of an autumn forest, in these soft syllables we hear, even yet, the voices of the "First Families" of Frederick.
One of the far reaching consequences of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, in 1685, was the unrest and fear which spread all over Europe, and scattered to the four winds tens of thousands of the best men, not only of France and the Low Countries, but of Germany, Switzerland and Bohemia. It is to one of these waves of emigration that we must look for the hardy pioneers who came southward from the settlements in Lower Pennsylvania. With the land hunger and the land judgment characteristic of the Teuton, they "took up," as the phrase goes, the lands lying along the river they, and the Carrolls, long after them, called Monnokasi, or Monockessy. Certain traits they brought with them as a matter of course, these Palatines, as they were indiscriminatingly called, - industry, economy, honesty, and an absolute devotion to the principles of civil and religious liberty. Some were Labadists, some Mennonites, some Lutherans, but for the greater part they were of the Calvinistic churches; and held the Helvetic Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism next in honor to the open Bible. Hardly less picturesque than the Indians were these pioneers: the women in homespun kirtle and linen bodice; the men in the deerskin costume of the frontiersman, tomahawk, rifle and fringed leggings included. It was not long before they had built roads, cleared fields, sowed crops, built houses and barns, and had planted those countless lovely orchards that make the valley one drift of rose and snow when May time comes.
In 1745 another settlement was begun along one of the newest roadways, the first house being built by Thomas Schley. There is a glimmer of doubt as to whence came the name of the village and the county formed a year or so later. There was, it is true, a very dissolute Frederick Calvert who died - the last Lord Baltimore - in 1771; but there was also a Frederick, Prince of Wales, father to King George III.; and it was no doubt in his honor that the name was given by Charles Calvert, then bowing and smiling at the English court.
In 1766, the frontier troubles known as the French and Indian War had assumed such proportions that General Braddock came over to see what could be done about it. A young surveyor from Virginia, tall and brave, with splendid physique and a judgment which impressed all who came in contact with him, was invited to act as aide-de-camp for the British commander. The meeting between Braddock and George Washington took place in Frederick, in April of the ill fated year 1755, as all men may read, not only in the pages of more serious historians, but also in a chronicle steeped with the very spirit of the eighteenth century, wherein William Makepeace Thackeray has recounted the adventures of The Virginians. Another visitor at the same time was Benjamin Franklin, Postmaster General of the Colonies, who came to arrange for the delivery of despatches to and from the expedition, and who then first saw the younger soldier. A courthouse was building, by the way, but, by fair means or foul, Braddock, whose angry bluster and loud oaths we can yet almost hear, aided by the wily Franklin, impressed so many hundreds of horses, wagons, teamsters and servants that the work was delayed for some years after the testy General, in his coach and six, drove off over the mountain on May day morning. He left a memorial on Catoctin, a walled in spring of icy water, covered by a great flat rock, under whose shelter tiny ferns and silvery green mosses love to grow.
There was a road to Baltimore and to Annapolis as early as 1760, and a curiously large commerce with the Saltzburgers who had settled in Georgia. The town flourished apace, and, besides the Palatines, some Scotch-Irish and many English began to arrive. The gentry had not been slow in obtaining patents to the fertile lands. In 1723 the Carrolls received the splendid manor of Carrollton, ten thousand acres in extent. Daniel Dulany had eight thousand acres, and the last Lord Baltimore nearly twice as much, while other gentlemen had estates of immense value. With fortunes such as these figures represent a splendid style of living was possible, the effect of which was seen on every hand. In 1760, the Market House was built, and the Presbyterians had their pastor, while as early as 1764 the Reformed Church boasted of a belfry, which, remodelled in 1807, is yet one of the
In 1765, Father Hunter began the arduous duties of a priest whose flock was scattered over uncounted miles of wilderness; and even before that, perhaps, the whole county, which embraced all that is now known as Western Maryland, was one parish of the Established Church, with All Saints' for its centre. Her clergymen had an annual revenue of five thousand pounds, and this rich plum was given to one or another of the beneficed clergy who too often disgraced the reign of the early Georges. The most notorious of all the New World incumbents was, perhaps, the Rev. Bennett Allen, who came to All Saints' in 1768, greatly against the will of the people. On the first Sunday after his arrival the vestrymen left the church in a body. A peacemaking worshipper ventured up to the pulpit with a remonstrance, only to be met with a drawn pistol in the clerical hand, and an oathful threat of immediate happy despatch if he interfered with the service. That his wild career included the murder of one Dulany in a duel, and the plotted assassination of another, and that he died an unknown, drunken outcast of London streets, is the shameful and pitiful ending of this o'ertrué tale. That he has been succeeded by a long line of devout and godly men has long ago effaced the stain he left upon the parish annals.
Some miles to the northeast of the town a young man, Robert Strawbridge by name, who had imbibed the doctrines of the Wesleys, formed a class after their ideas in 1764, which Bishop Asbury said was "the first in Maryland and America." The small log chapel which they built antedated any other Methodist meeting house in America by three years, which gives the county the right to the title of the Mother of American Methodism.
History was fast making in those days. In 1764 the Stamp Act was passed, and a commissioner was appointed to distribute the detested paper in the province of Maryland. Court was sitting in Frederick Town, but there was no paper of the prescribed variety on hand. On the 23d of November, 1765, twelve free men of Frederick decreed and declared that Frederick Court could attend to its own affairs without any aid from his Majesty the King, and that, paper or no paper, its work should proceed. John Darnell, the clerk, demurred, refused to issue unstamped paper, was committed for contempt, submitted, and thus the first repudiation of the Stamp Act was accomplished. The names of the twelve justices who, without hesitation or fear, took this great step, were these: Joseph Smith, David Lyon, Charles Jones, Samuel Beall, Joseph Beall, Peter Bainbridge, Thomas Price, Andrew Hugh, William Blair, William Luckett, Thomas Dickson and Thomas Beatty.
People took their pleasures gladly in those days, and in an old New York Postboy (January 2, 1766), and a yet older Philadelphia Gazelle (December 26, 1765), we read of a right jolly mock funeral, in which the Stamp Act was buried with much ceremony, the chief mourner being the unlucky distributor, Zachariah Hood, in effigy, which, during the frolic, was hanged in the Court House Square, near the stocks and whipping post. The usual supper and ball of the period ended the day.
The skies grew ever darker, and, in the next old paper to which we turn, we read of pledges made to support the blockaded Bostonians, on whose shoulders the burden of a common injustice was laid. Next came the call to arms, and the start, on their long march to Boston, of two companies, in command of Captain Michael Cresap, whose father had blazed his way to the Ohio. One of his lieutenants was John Ross Key, whose son Francis, yet unborn, was to make his name forever famous.
On the roll of honor the county gives high place to Sergeant Laurence Everhart, who, in the battle of Cowpens, prisoner though he was, bore himself right haughtily in the presence of Colonel Tarleton. Escaping by good fortune, a better fortune enabled him to deal a blow at a British officer whose sword was lifted against Colonel William Augustine Washington, so saving that brave life. Long years afterward we hear of a meeting between the veterans, when "with tears and kisses" the old bond was strengthened.
At home work scarcely less patriotic was doing. Flax, hemp and wool were grown, spun and woven; a gun lock factory was established, saltpetre was made and in the iron furnaces owned by D' Hughes and by Thomas Johnson and his brothers, cannon and bombs were cast. The Market House became an arsenal. Hessian prisoners, hundreds of them, were confined in a log jail built for them, and in some stone barracks, still partly standing. To reinforce Washington, and to share the perils of Valley Forge, seventeen hundred men left home, and until peace was declared, the people of Frederick bore their share of the danger and the loss with all bravery and cheerfulness. It is like a page from the history of the darkest ages, however, to read this sentence passed upon seven Tories, convicted of treasonable conspiracies:
"You shall be carried to the gaol in Frederick town, and be hanged therein: you shall be cut down to the earth alive, and your entrails shall be taken out and burned while you are yet alive. Your heads shall be cut off; and your body shall be divided into four parts; and your head and quarters shall be placed where His Excellency the Governor shall appoint So Lord have mercy on your poor souls."
This terrible sentence was in four instances executed!
A mile or so north of the town, where the lands are richest, and the view up and down the valley and the blue mountains is finest, lies Rose Hill, where Thomas Johnson lived and died. Born in 1732, of sires who had cornmanded ships against the Invincible Armada, this man had few peers in the era which his wisdom, his industry, his sterling honesty and his pure patriotism adorned. He had made a name at the brilliant provincial Bar, when in 1765, in answer to an appeal made by the Massachusetts Assembly, a Maryland Assembly was formed, and he took his place among the men who had set for themselves the task of righting the wrongs of the colonies. He became a member of the Committee of Safety and the Committee of Remonstrance, and, in 1774, he aided John Adams, Richard Henry Lee and Patrick Henry in framing the Address to the Crown. On the 15th of June, 1775, Thomas Johnson nominated George Washington to be Commander in Chief of the Continental armies. This act, which would seem to be glory enough for one life, was but an incident in his busy days, for his name is heard of wherever probity and wise heartedness were needed. That it does not appear on the Declaration of Independence is owing to the fact that the serious illness of a member of his family made his absence from Philadelphia necessary on that fateful 2d of July.
When the partition from England was completed, and the Colony became a State, he was chosen to be its first Governor, an office he filled for three terms. He was an ardent supporter of the Federal Constitution, and was one of those instrumental in making Washington our first President. The portfolio of Secretary of State and the District Judgeship were earnestly' and affectionately urged upon him by his old friend, who finally persuaded him to accept a seat upon the Supreme Bench. This he soon resigned, by reason of delicate health. Together with Daniel Carroll and Dr. Stewart he selected the sites for the Capitol, the President's mansion and various other public buildings of the new seat of government, after which he retired to private life; his one subsequent public appearance being on the occasion of a commemorative funeral service after the death of Washington, when he pronounced a beautiful eulogy. His own life drew to its earthly close in 1819, and his dust rests in All Saints' burying ground, surrounded by the ancient tombstones of his friends and neighbors, overgrown with wild grasses and myrtle, swept by the pure mountain winds and brooded by the deep peace of the valley he loved so well. His best eulogy was the few words spoken by John Adams in which he said that "but for such men as Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Chase and Thomas Johnson there would have been no Revolution."
After the peace the town grew steadily in wealth, comfort and luxury. The road which is called the National Pike, the great artery between East and West, was also the main street of Frederick, and was the scene of much life. Inns of great excellence divided the journeys into pleasant stages, wagons and coaches dashed out and in to a great snapping of whips, jangling of bells and blowing of horns, and while the horses were changed many a glimpse was had of the men who were talked about early in the nineteenth century.
In 1797, Frederick College was founded. The church on the hill was outgrown. The older gentry had worshipped there; Bishop Claggett had held there in 1793 the first Confirmation in the State, and the grassy churchyard was sacred with much holy dust, but it was too small and remote for the growing congregation. Partly by gift, and partly by the curious aid of a lottery, a second church was built in 1814, still used and loved as All Saints' Chapel. It had a ceiling of singular beauty, high backed pews, a gallery for servants, and in 1826 the "new organ," yet in daily use, was placed therein.
One of the faithful worshippers in the church was Francis Scott Key, who was born in the upper part of the county in 1780, but who spent some years of his early manhood practising at the Frederick Bar. Of his quiet, lovely life, but little is known, comparatively, although a few persons yet linger who remember him. A good citizen, a good ma ster, a good lawyer, a poet of very sweet and true, if limited, powers, the deep pirituality of whose few hymns can never sound elsewhere as in the old church, he would probably have passed through and out of life as many other good men do, but for the strain of one September night in 1814, when his eager eyes watched for the first ray of dawn, if haply they might yet see the Star Spangled Banner afloat over Fort McHenry, and a nation's love and loyalty found everlasting voice through his.
To Frederick, in 1801, came Mr. Key's close friend, soon to be his sister's husband, Roger Brooke Taney, for many years Chief Justice of the United States. For twenty one years he lived there, and returned, his long life, full of work and of honors, over, to sleep beside his mother in the little burial place of the Jesuits at the Novitiate.
May a brief pause be made in this hasty chronicle to look at the great Roman Catholic foundations of Frederick which lend such an unusual aspect to the part of the town in which they stand. The long, dull facade of the Novitiate fronts the school and the beautiful church,and next that the great walls of the convent arise, shutting out the world from the still, cloistered life within. Many men eminent in the order have been part of the place none of them more interesting, perhaps, than Father John Du Bois, who came thither in 1792. He was an émigré of the French Revolution, in which his old classmates at the College of Louis-le-Grand, Camille Desmoulins and Robespierre, figured so largely, and he afterwards wore a mitre.
In 1824, Lafayette included Frederick in his great tour of rejoicing, and was accorded the usual welcoming parades, speeches, dinner and ball. Only a few years ago a beautiful, blind old lady, who had been a beautiful, bright eyed young wife, used to tell of her noble guest. She was a favorite granddaughter of Governor Johnson, and in her girlhood had helped Louisa Johnson, the wife of John Quincy Adams, to dispense the unpretentious hospitality of the White House. Mr. Adams, she said, got up and built his hearth fire of a morning himself! It was a chapter from an old romance to listen to her kindly talk of "the old times and the days that were before us," and when she "went away," almost the last of the perfect breeding and high simplicity of the old, old days left Maryland forever.
So much must be left out that hardly a word can be given to the Civil War, which found the old town alive with the old fervor. Not that all its sons thought alike. Sometimes the gray uniforms thronged the streets; sometimes the blue; once there was even a skirmish on the main street. In the terrible Battle Autumn of 1862, Frederick was the heart of the war. Dr. Holmes came down, after Antietam battle, to make his famous "Hunt after the Captain," and even the sad, gaunt face of President Lincoln was seen among the rows of wounded and dying men that filled convent and church, every available space. The roads for miles in every direction were crowded with the paraphernalia of war of hurt and of healing.
In the early September days, Generals Lee and Stonewall Jackson were both here with the armies, gathering for the fearful struggles of South Mountain and Antietam. On the night of the 7th General Jackson drove into town in an ambulance, to attend divine service in the Reformed Church, where, as he wrote to his wife, and as is told of him by many who saw him, he fell asleep. On the morning of the l0th, the camps breaking, and the march over the mountain beginning, General Jackson, with Major H. Kyd Douglass of his staff, rode to the Presbyterian manse on Second Street, to pay his respects to his friends, the Rev. Dr. and Mrs. Ross. As they had not yet arisen, the General pencilled a line of greeting and farewell, with military precision noting the hour, "5 1/4 A. M.," and remounting his horse under the great silver poplar rode down Mill Alley, a narrow lane which crosses Carroll Creek by a ford and a high foot bridge, and so on to the Pike, or Patrick Street, where he rejoined his command, a n d led them westward.
A few hundred yards to the east of Mill Alley, and again across a winding of Carroll Creek, lived a very old and intensely loyal woman, Barbara Fritchie, who was no myth, but a figure familiar to Frederick from time immemorial. Born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on December 3, 1766, she had come, as Barbara Hauer, to Frederick so many years before that on the occasion of the visit of General Washington in 1791 and a ball given in his honor, she loaned some of her choice china to adorn the table, and his Excellency drank a cup of tea poured from her yet carefully cherished teapot. She and her husband, John Fritchie, a glovers, had long lived in a small house adjoining the creek which was demolished after one of the perilous floods to which the stream was formerly subject. On the opposite side of the creek is a tiny park, with a deep, cool spring which is often called by her name, and from which many a weary soldier drank. She was of the Reformed faith, and her devotion to the Union cause was almost passionate. Small hospitality had she for the tired Confederate who sometimes dropped for a moment's rest upon her "stoop." Such visitors were shown her cane, and in most vigorous Saxon were invited to "move on." It was said that just before the battle of South Mountain, as the Union troops were passing her house, General Reno, seeing her venerable welcoming face, asked her age.
"Ninety six! Boys, give three cheers for ninety six!" he cried, and so rode on to his death. Perhaps she waved a small flag at him, but this one thing we know, that until Barbara Fritchie, who died on the 18th of December of that year, and Stonewall Jackson met in Whittier's stirring ballad, they never met at all. Those who honor the memory of a brave Christian soldier are glad that the story is not true; those who see in the poem an incident too picturesque to be willingly lost from the story of the war, are sorry that it is not; but all who have seen the valley will be for ever grateful for the perfect picture of its loveliness.
Clinging to its old faiths, its old churches, its old traditions, its old customs; clinging to its old houses, its old mahogany and china and portraits, its sweet old gardens and its sweeter friendliness and helpfulness and loyalty, the generations come and go.
On the stars below in Frederick town."
" Clustered spires of Frederick "
that rise from what the enamored Washington called "the garden spot of Maryland."
"And ever the stars above look down
Historic towns of the Southern States
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