Volume 15, Issue 1, February 2016

In and about Town

The main goals of the Baltimore City Historical Society (BCHS) are to promote the history of Baltimore City and to help ensure the preservation and ease of access to the sources that document that history. This newsletter/blog is centered on those efforts, highlighting the activities and interests of its members and introducing its readers to the many and varied stories of life in and about town over the centuries since July 30, 1729, the date frequently chosen for the founding of Baltimore on the banks of the Patapsco River. An active BCHS board member, Matt Crenson is completing one of the most comprehensive and entertaining histories of the government of Baltimore Town and City which it is hoped will reach the bookstores and the electronic book market one day soon. Dr. Crenson is also an authority on social welfare in the United States in the early twentieth century with his Building the Invisible Orphanage. While this book does not touch on Baltimore, one of his followers, Nurith Zamora, has written a monograph on some of the orphanages of Baltimore, Orphanages Reconsidered ( Temple University Press, 1994). She has yet to write about the African American Orphanages in town, which is an interest of another board member, and will be the subject of a future newsletter article on Remington and the Johns Hopkins Colored Orphan Asylum of West 31st Street.

This newsletter is not intended to be comprehensive, but rather a record and stimulator of further research on topics of current interest, and an advocate for the care and access to the trails of records, buildings, and images that evoke an accurate and illuminating understanding of the past history of the City.

Recently official Baltimore has returned to the visible elements of the City Beautiful movement of the last century,[1] with members advocating designation for preservation the tree lined thoroughfares Alameda, 33rd Street, and the Gwynns Falls Parkway, known collectively as the Olmsted Parkways. An article by Lauren Schizsik all about the Baltimore Olmsted Parkways appeared in the Fall 2015 quarterly journal of the National Alliance of Preservation Commissions Landscape Issue of The Alliance Review: https://www.z2systems.com/neon/resource/napc/files/TheAllianceReview_Fall2015_Final.pdf.

That treelined roadways have always been a part of Baltimore’s past, if not always preserved, is nowhere more evident than in an often overlooked view of York Road in 1817:

detail of the plan for a tree-lined York Road taken from A View of the First [Six] Cities of the United States engraved by Bouquet de Woisier, probably 1817, courtesy of the New York Public Library. See entry 270, Picturing America, 1497-1899 by Gloria Gilda Deak (Princeton University Press, 1988), and Lois McCauley, Maryland Historical Prints (Baltimore, 1975 ), V8, p. 7. Given the accuracy of detail, it was probably drawn on site.

courtesy of Joe Stewart.

The first hook up to the new sewers was at the nurses quarters of Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1911 where there was threat of an epidemic.

The interests of the BCHS extend to documenting the development of underground Baltimore through conferences on the history of public works in the city and images that appear on the Facebook pages linked from the margin of this newsletter. Last November the BCHS co-sponsored a conference with the Baltimore County Historical Society entitled “From Sanitary to Sustainable: A History of our Sewage System” that included presentations by Kurt Kocher, Baltimore City Department of Public Works, Paige Glotzer, Johns Hopkins University, and Morgan Grove, Baltimore Ecosystem Study. Shortly thereafter an article, “The Man made Marvel of the Baltimore Sewers” by Alicia Puglionesi, appeared in an on line newspaper that had all of the marks of having been written by someone who attended the conference. Kurt Kocher’s presentation at the conference, “Baltimore Wastewater, A Brief History”, is available on line.

That the city has faced, and attempted to overcome, significant environmental issues ranging from establishing a pig farm in Anne Arundel County for the disposal of garbage to coping with nuisance suits demanding the removal of the damaging exhaust of chemical factories on Federal Hill, are topics under investigation by contributors to this newsletter, and summaries of their stories and findings are slated for future issues.

The interests of the BCHS also extend to better interpretation of the architects and architecture of Baltimore, and to the immigrants who in large measure literally built the city and worked in its factories. Catherine Evans, a board member of the BCHS, has written about one of the more important architects of the city, Maximilian Godefroy[2], who designed and oversaw the building of St. Mary’s Chapel, the Battle Monument which is the symbol of the City on its official seal, a remarkable corner bank building (now demolished), and the First Unitarian Church. The lecture given on the history of the Dome of the Unitarian Church by Philadelphia architect and architectural historian, Doug Harnsberger, a specialist in architectural restoration, alerted his audience not only to the significance and beauty of the construction of the dome (the interior of which is now hidden), but linked it to the wider world of Thomas Jefferson as architect, and to the now demolished Exchange which was a center of Baltimore business and commerce for nearly 90 years.

Immigrants at the reception area of Locust Point terminal

On the west side of town there is a museum devoted to the contributions of the Irish railroad workers, while across the inner harbor another building exhibit is planned documenting the immigrants who landed at the B&O immigration pier, some of whom stayed, but many of whom went on to populate and contribute to the development of the old Northwest Territory (including Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio). The United Church of Christ on Beason Street in Locust Point is allowing volunteers to use two rooms in their next-door building for a display. The building was actually used to house immigrants and sailors. Xibitz is fabricating the display panels that should be ready for public viewing in the near future.

There is continued interest in the history of Medicine and health services in the city, the latter currently and collectively the largest employer in Baltimore. The Johns Hopkins Medical Archives offers a wealth of collections relating to that history which includes the recent interest in Henrietta Lacks, and eugenics, the topic of an upcoming lecture by Board member Garrett Power lecture at the Baltimore Bar Library in the Clarence Mitchell courthouse. On Thursday, February 11, Professor Garrett Power will present “Atticus Finch, Jim Crow & Baltimore’s Best.” He will examine the role played by the pseudo-science of eugenics in the justification for racially discriminatory law and practices in twentieth century Baltimore. Particular attention will be paid to the infatuation Baltimore’s leading citizens had with eugenics. Many of these individuals were leaders of the Bar. Included among them, John Prentiss Poe (1836-1909) Dean of the University of Maryland School of Law, William L. Marbury, Sr. (1858-1935), Philip Perlman (1890-1960), and numerous others. The presentation will focus on early twentieth century efforts to deny African-Americans the right to vote, the residential segregation ordinances, school segregation and more.


There are a number of under-utilized and not sufficiently supported institutions in the city that hold remarkable, largely untapped collections relating to the city. Included is the Baltimore City Archives which with a staff of only three is working hard to make their collections known and accessible to the historians of the City. Recently, through the efforts of Stevenson University and volunteers, Rob Schoeberlein, a BCHS member and acting Baltimore City Archivist, has unlocked and noted on line several new collections including a remarkable accumulation of architectural drawings. Readers should follow the Baltimore City Archives web site for details as well their facebook page for images of new discoveries. In future issues of the newsletter it is hoped that repositories such as the Baltimore City Archives can be featured, stressing the untapped resources they contain for writing about the City’s history.

To understand the history of a city, nothing is more important than understanding its geography and development. Sherry Olson recognized that in her Baltimore (Baltimore, 1980), a study that anyone interested in the history of the city should read. Maps and mapping of the city has recently been treated in a blog of one BCHS board member and repeated in the MHS blog, the Underbelly. In the next issue of the newsletter, the editor will provide a downloadable file (a KMZ file) that will superimpose the places noted in the newsletter on the earliest maps of the city overlayed on Google Earth. It is by far the least expensive and best way to link visually the present state of places, their histories, and the present. It may, perhaps, be the best inexpensive way, for those who wish to explore the city’s history to gain a sense of geography and place over time, but that remains to be seen.

As to the electronic version of the Gaslight, readers are encouraged to read the announcement linked in the righthand column which explains how this, and, it is hoped, future issues are envisioned. A great debt is owed to Lewis H. Diuguid who began the newsletter as a paper product of high quality. The intent is to make this electronic version a searchable, permanent record of the research interests of BCHS members and newsletter readers, in the expectation that it will encourage more to be written about the history of the City that will be entertaining, educational and accurate. Submissions are welcome at baltimoregaslight@gmail.com with the understanding that they may be edited for publication.

[1] Wilson, William H. (1989). The City Beautiful Movement. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

[2] The Godefroy articles by Catherine Evans are named, dated, and located as follows:

#57 11/14/2014 Maximilian Godefroy, Part I: The Architect Comes to Baltimore Historic Structure of the First Unitarian Church, Part III, https://gallery.mailchimp.com/0a8db7c551419af947429fe5f/files/November_2014_Beacon_Email_version_REVISED.pdf; #58 12/14/2014, Maximilian Godefroy, Part II: Eliza Crawford Anderson The Historic Structure of the First Unitarian Church, Part IV, https://gallery.mailchimp.com/0a8db7c551419af947429fe5f/files/Dec14BeaconPubfinal.pdf; #59 1/15/2015, Maximilian Godefroy, Part III: Architectural Accomplishments The Historic Structure of the First Unitarian Church, Part V, https://gallery.mailchimp.com/0a8db7c551419af947429fe5f/files/Beacon201501_1_.pdf; #61, 3/15/2015, Maximilian Godefroy, Part IV:The Historic Structure of the First Unitarian Church, Part VI, https://gallery.mailchimp.com/0a8db7c551419af947429fe5f/files/March_2015_Beacon_Email_version1.pdf;

detail courtesy of scholastic.com

Now and Then

The electronic version of the Baltimore Historical Society's The Baltimore Gaslight focuses short essays on the people and places of Baltimore derived from the inquiries to the Society's web site, and the ongoing research interests of its members. For those who wish to follow the activities of the Society and announcements relating to events sponsored and co-sponsored by the Society, readers should consult the Society's web site.

Too often the histories of urban places fail to link the in depth stories of people to place, overlooking the history of the neighborhoods from the standpoint of the individuals who lived and worked there. To unravel the histories of neighborhoods in terms of the people and businesses that are found there at any point in time takes considerable detective work. Thanks to the many resources available now on the web from census schedules and city directories to probate records, it is possible to link memories and oral history to people and place in a way that it is hoped will encourage more to be done and written about. It is also hoped that how the stories are documented here, will also direct readers to sources they have yet to consult.

Readers are encouraged to let us know their stories of Baltimore neighborhoods and businesses, hopefully illustrated with images from their personal collections.

Those who are inclined to photography should take note of:

Aspiring photojournalist? Or just an avid shutterbug? No matter your level of expertise, here’s your chance to share your special Baltimore photographs. The Baltimore National Heritage Area has launched a new photo contest to showcase the best of the city’s people and places.

The heritage area is accepting submissions through the end of July 2016 — lots of time to photograph the city though the seasons and to capture images of the multitude of city festivals and events. Winning photographers receive prizes, and the best images will be showcased in a 2017 wall calendar.

Photographs must be taken within the boundaries of the heritage area and fall into one of four categories associated with Baltimore history. A team of judges made up of Baltimore-based artists and professionals will select a grand prize winner as well as winners and finalists for each category.

Visit www.explorebaltimore.org/snap for more information on the photo contest, including photograph submission instructions and the rules and requirements. It’s a snap!

Inquiries and submittals are welcome at baltimoregaslight@gmail.com. This issue touches on the neighborhoods of Waverly, Oliver, Mayfield, and Coldstream, Homestead, Montebello (Teacher & Poet), and Fairmount. It begins with Fairmount (A Spy in the Neighborhood?) drawn from the memories of the retired editor of The Baltimore Gaslight, Lewis H. Diuguid.

A Spy in the Neighborhood?

3739 Nortonia Road, Fairmount, as of 2014, excerpt from Google Maps

Fairmount neighborhood from Cityview

1927 Aerial Survey of Baltimore City, detail of Fairmount neighborhood with 3739 Nortonia (North) Road noted in yellow, image courtesy of the Baltimore City Archives. Note the baseball diamond in the lower left corner.

3739 & 3733 Nortonia Road

In 1940 the Franke and Hirschmann families lived at 3739 and 3733 Nortonia Road in Fairmont. Their houses were built about 1920, according to the Maryland Department of Assessment and Taxation. They were good neighbors.

1940 Census detail of Franke and Hirschmann families

courtesy of the National Archives and Ancestry.com

When war came, the Franke family were forced to move inland to Springfield, Ohio. Lewis Diuguid, who during the war lived at 3737, tells their story and supplies the following Franke family photograph of vacationing on shores of the Black Sea in 1938.

The Franke family from Fairmount on vacation in 1938 on the Black Sea

In WWII, a German Accent Was Fraught [1]

By Lewis H. Diuguid

When The Baltimore Gaslight took up a search in the fall issue of 2010 for what 50 years earlier was the city's largest ethnic minority, the German-Americans, I thought back to events that help explain why some of that group might incline to anonymity. Here, then, is an addendum perhaps relevant in today’s turmoil over ethnicity and immigration:

I lived in Fairmount, hard by Leaken Park, when the United States entered World War II after Japan's 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. At age 6, I thought the war was swell.

We considered our neighbors good friends, yet German. Certainly the father, Otto Franke, had an accent. My father already having been called up as a training officer, I manned my post in the neighborhood and quickly conjured a spy thriller. Its inspiration was a brass and glass case, with dials and a German flag, on the Frankes' screened porch--surely a short-wave radio to communicate with Berlin. But no, Mother explained, it was a barometer given Mr. Franke by the North German Lloyd shipping line, where he once had worked.

While I reluctantly surrendered my caper, it turned out that the FBI had its own fable of the Frankes, concocted of anonymous tips and bureaucratic zealotry, that out-distanced any neighborly defense of the family. The Frankes were forced, uncompensated, to move inland as alien coastal security risks--despite Otto having been born in New York City and additionally becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1932 after his early years in Germany. Otto spent the duration trying to clear his name but was not allowed to return to Baltimore until after the war.

I lost touch but thought often of the Frankes when this country's wartime internment of ethnic Japanese became a high-profit issue, culminating in 1988 with congressional atonement and $20,000 payments to the thousands of victims. But there was no recompense for, or even mention of, ethnic German or Italian victims. I was working for The Washington Post and sought to learn why, basing the search on the Franke case. The Justice Department acknowledged that a file on Franke might exist but said only a Freedom of Information Act request could turn it up and that would take two years.

I applied in 1992, received the file almost five years later, and The Post's Sunday Magazine published my account on Jan. 3, 1999. By then I had caught up with Otto's sons, who helped me build quite a file myself. The story detailed the life of a highly regarded, energetic yet patient engineer who, "despite repeated jousts with his government, maintained allegiance to this country." He and his wife Roberta raised the two sons, both of whom served the government that tormented him.

Otto was born in 1890 of a German-born naturalized American father and an American mother, who died when he was 2. His father returned with him to Germany, where he studied and eventually served in the German army 1913-18. He returned to this country in 1921 and to Baltimore in 1930, where he married and was naturalized--even though born here. Otto, an engineer but also a pianist, died in 1977 and is buried in Ohio, where his wife, a gifted pianist, grew up and the site they chose for his enforced exile from the eastern seaboard.

Many of the items in the FBI file on Franke originated with its director, J. Edgar Hoover, who five months before the declaration of war had called for Franke's detention "in the event of a national emergency" on the basis of two anonymous tips that he was a spy. Franke was one among many suspects. After the attack at Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a proclamation under the Alien Enemy Act of 1798 allowing detentions and Hoover declared within three days that 1,291 Japanese, 857 Germans and 147 Italians were being held.

Initially Franke was spared when agents discovered he was a citizen. Many of the early detainees were Axis nationals who soon were exchanged for Americans similarly caught abroad. But second-generation nisei were put in camps in California. Spy scares dwindled--yet the Baltimore office of the FBI was on the Franke case, and others. Agents searched his house on Nortonia Road, leaving a receipt for the seizure of German Lloyd annual reports 1926-34, a list of "German" organizations in the city, and, inexplicably, a copy of a promotional magazine of the Roland Park Co.

Franke, in his defense at every turn, eventually concluded that the one item in his dossier that he could not overcome was his acknowledged membership since 1934 in Technischer Verein, or the Technology Society, an early advocate of high tech. The Enoch Pratt Free Library, having asked information of the group as an educational asset, learned that it met twice monthly in "the German Aged Home." The library received a free subscription to the group's "Technologist"--in German. A branch in New York City, though, had been mentioned inconclusively in early spy allegations there that came to naught.

An aide to Hoover had devised a numerical scheme to weigh suspects' proclivities for spying and on March 2, 1943, a military board convened at the Stock Exchange Building on Baltimore Street, heard defenders but served Franke his Exclusion Order "out of Eastern Defense Command," with a spy rating of 69 percent. The family left for Lima, Ohio. Nothing appeared in print on any of this, suggesting the media volunteered connivence. This was despite the fact that by then the Eastern Defense Command had issued 72 other exclusion orders, 20 of them in Maryland.

Another naturalized U.S. citizen in Baltimore, Albert Erfried Polzin, was sent packing with an 80 percent rating for "overt acts" consisting of pro-German and anti-Semitic statements. He allegedly acknowledged being pro-Nazi and "formerly had short-wave radio and listened to German broadcasts." He rated 59 percent. This, too, was secret, but the Army recorded that he did appeal the Exclusion Order to the District Court of Maryland, where Judge William C. Coleman found for the Army, saying, "It is of such stuff that treason is made." A third Baltimorean was "definitely anti-British . . . and used to speak of them as 'bull dogs' ." He rated 59 percent.

Bruno Niemann, also a member of Technischer Verein, "had high-powered short-wave receiving set in room while at Wildwood, N.J., in summer of 1942 and listened to German broadcasts, and gave trouble concerning lowering of shades at night. His room was reported to contain pictures showing Hitler, Frederick the Great, and Bismarck." Seventy-three percent.

The secrecy was about to come unstuck. While most German-Americans apparently were too loyal or too ashamed to speak out, a pro-Nazi saw that her constitutional rights could protect her dissent. Olga Schueller, a naturalized American in Philadelphia, took her Exclusion Order to federal count. She charged that the military board's powers were illegal and that she was deprived of due process, never having been informed of the charges. The judge sustained her second count. The New York Times reported this two months later, on Aug. 20, 1943.

The Army board began work on its first press release, to explain the secret exclusion orders. Roosevelt's attorney general, Francis Biddle, who had lost to the Army on the nisei interning, issued a memo to Hoover after reviewing the "danger classifications," finding them “defective" and "dangerous." Biddle ordered Hoover to quit use of them and to place a copy of the order in the files of all affected. A copy was placed in Franke's file but he was not informed, nor were his Army nemeses in Ohio, who continued to hound him from any company with a military component til war's end.

* * * *

The actions of the FBI and Army 75 years ago echo now as a massive Home Security federal apparatus seeks to fend off attacks by violent extremists. At issue: Must defenses against terrorism trample civil liberties? Muslim groups have raised concerns, including claims during a first round 15 years ago that sites for concentration camps already had been selected. Exclusion is now a byword of presidential campaigns. If the Franke case has a larger lesson it may derive from its most confined dimension, the woodsy little neighborhood of Fairmount. It was all-white then—virtually all city neighborhoods were black or white--but with a sense of diversity.

Our other immediate neighbors also had a German-sounding name, Hirschmann. They were Jewish and American. The father, Joseph, was a lawyer whose father had come from Silesia. The mother later was active in early efforts at city planning. The family found friends in the Frankes. My contemporary, Edwin Hirschmann, now a retired history professor from Towson University, had discussed his stamp collection with Otto, who gave him treasured German stamps. A matronly neighbor just across the alley, who had pled the Frankes' case to FBI investigators to no avail, invited the family to tea on the day the moving van came.

The FBI file did not disclose the source of the initial spy allegations. The neighborhood overall had found for the Frankes even as the alarmed Justice Department in Washington saw the case quite differently. Fairmount celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2012. It was entirely black by then, the last of several white families that had resisted the postwar flux to the counties now having died out. Professor Hirschmann and I were welcomed to a celebratory block party. The neighborhood looked as we remembered it. Along Nortonia Road we had a lot to reminisce about.

[1] William Safire, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/07/magazine/07wwln_safire.html, “Standing alone, fraught means "marked by emotional distress or tension."”

Teacher & Poet

What do these three images excerpted from Google Earth have in common?

These are the homes in which the acclaimed Baltimore poet, Lizette Woodworth Reese lived a large portion of her adult life. Recently, thanks to the efforts of BCHS member and secretary, Joe Stewart, among others, Miss Reese, who received an honorary doctorate for her poetry from Goucher College, has been admitted into the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame.

The Pratt Library houses her papers and the Maryland Historical Society’s Underbelly has published a well written and thoughtful account of her life and career from which the following photograph is taken.


Lizette Woodworth Reese published her first poem, “The Deserted House” in the June 1874 issue of Southern Magazine (Baltimore, Turnbull Brothers), perhaps written nostalgically from a new home on Harford Avenue, no longer extant?[1]

The Deserted House

THE old house standeth wide and gray,

With sharpened gables high in air,

And deep-set lattices, all gay

With massive arch and framework rare;

And o’er it is a silence laid,

That feeling, one grows sore afraid.

The eaves, are dark with heavy vines;

The steep roof wears a coat of moss;

The walls are touched with dim designs

Of shadows moving slow across;

The balconies are damp with weeds

That lift thick as the streamside reeds.

The garden is a loved retreat

Of melancholy flowers, of lone

And wild-mouthed herbs, in companies sweet,

’Mid desolate green grasses thrown;

And in its gaps the hoar stone wall

Letteth the lonesome ivies fall.

The pebbled paths drag, here and there,

Old lichened faces, overspun

With silver spider-threads —they wear

A silence sad to look upon:

It is so long that happy feet

Made them to thrill with pressure sweet.

The fountain stands where crowd the trees,

And. solemn branches o er it part:

HOW human wind its melodies!

“A broken heart—a broken heart! "

For this is all it hath to say

Throughout the livelong summer's day



imaged published in the Sun March 15, 1903, pg. 7, background removed; said to be taken some years before;

source: http://americanliteraryblog.blogspot.com/2011_12_01_archive.html, location of the original, unknown

Lizette Woodworth Reese began teaching at St. John’s Episcopal school in Waverly. She then moved to the public schools of Baltimore City in 1876 to teach at the English German School. In 1889, at the age of 33, she first appears in her own right in the city directory as a teacher living at 1407 North Central Avenue, residing with her parents and brother David In 1896 she transferred to teach at the Colored High School on Saratoga, just east of Charles Street and next door to the Athenaeum, home at the time, to the Maryland Historical Society.

detail from the Bromley Atlas of Baltimore City, 1898

There she taught composition, rhetoric, literature, and physiology until 1901. In 1897 she bought the house at 2613 Atlantic Avenue (now 2109 Kentucky) for $650, the equivalent of her annual salary at the Colored High School. In 1917 she sold the house and moved in with her sisters at 2926 Harford Road, today an assisted living facility overlooking Clifton Park, where she remained until her death in 1935.

Western High School on McCulloch Street, detail from 1906 Bromley Atlas of Baltimore City

When in 1901 the city finally fulfilled its ‘promise’ to staff all colored schools with colored teachers, Miss Reese was transferred to Western High School, where she remained until her retirement in 1921, after which she devoted herself to writing and reading her poetry.

image of an 1877 plan of Waverly, then in Baltimore County, courtesy of Johns Hopkins University, Sheridan Library

Most of her published works reflect on, or are inspired by, her memories of the Waverly neighborhood. As one of the chief advocates for her inclusion to the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame, BCHS member and recording secretary, Joe Stewart, points out:

Two somewhat biographical books refer to grandparents east of Macdonald estate ( which Abel purchased) which I believe to be slightly north of the then non-existent 33rd Street.

She went to school and later taught at St. Johns (Huntingdon) and was active in that church now called St Johns in the Village on Greenmount at Old York.

In A Victorian Village she writes [in a chapter entitled “The House]

A half mile away from the old house [whose house? it reads like "hers"!] stood the toll-gate [that would be the toll-gate close to present day Greenmount and Vineyard across the way from St. Johns. And then writes] For an imaginative child living on the York Road, to wake up and remember the closed toll-gate half a mile below, [suggesting she was half a mile above or north] and the closed one farther up the pike [Govans?] was to have a feeling of safety not to be put into words. ... When I thought, years after, of the pastures in front of my grandfather's house, a line of one of Watts's hymns - "Green fields beyond the swelling flood" - came into my mind. … Opposite stretched a great pasture, curving down into the great western sky...The air was full of prickling half-noises...the shrill of the peacocks across in the Macdonald Farm...But houses go. The town pushes out, and clutches the fair meadowlands, and the uneven lanes are straightened into uniform streets, and the few roofs give way to hundreds, each after the same fashion, and the single shop to a sprawling dozen. And this was the way of the old house. They [her German grandparents?] built a new one on the opposite side of the orchard, and transplanted the white lilac-bushes...It grieved my childish heart to see the enchanted place go, but by this time my parents had moved into the city, and my only glimpse of the devastation were those of occasional week-end visits; being out of sight kept it in part of my mind. … There was never much money; many of this world's goods I went without. But there were always daffodils in the grass in spring, and there were traditions, and books, and plain thinking, and direct speech, and dignity of life and work, and liberty to move about, and grow up in. And which of us can escape beauty, no matter in what guise or under what name it goes about?

Francis P. O’Neal of the Maryland Historical Society takes the location of her childhood memories even further:

If you go to entry No. 390 in the 1860 census of the Ninth District of Baltimore County, you will see Lizette Reese listed with her maternal grandparents, the Gablers, in Waverly. The question thus becomes ‘Where did the Gablers live?’. On the ‘Plan of Waverly’ which you will find in the 1877 Hopkins’ “Atlas of Baltimore County, Maryland” you will see a house labeled ‘L. Gabler’ just south of the southwest corner of Old York Road and Carroll Ave. This was the home of Louis Gabler, who I suspect (but so far cannot prove) was Lizette’s uncle on her mother’s side. Louis Gabler also showed up in the 1860 census of the Ninth District of Baltimore County; he was listing No. 388, meaning he was pretty close to grandpa Charles Gabler [no. 390] and Lizette. You’d have to root around among the Baltimore County deeds of the period to see if by the time the 1877 atlas was made Louis Gabler had taken over what had been Charles Gabler’s house (although Charles didn’t die until 1880) or whether Louis was at the corner lot all along (i.e. from 1860 through 1877) and Charles had another, nearby, house that isn’t marked on the 1877 Waverly plan. In either case, I’m pretty confident that Lizette grew up around the intersection of Old York Road and Carroll Avenue – which latter today is East 35th Street – since I’ve never found any reason to doubt it.

P.S. Louis Gabler still was living at what then was No. 188 Old York Road in 1903, when his wife died there.

Indeed if you look closely at the 1877 map, you can see the Louis Gabler’s property extends to another house on Carroll Street which most likely was either Louis’s or Charles’s house. It also may be the property on which “Little Henrietta” died to whom she dedicate “her first long poem” in 1927.

The house itself was a low, mellowed thing,

In part of brick, in part of faded wood;

Set for a century in the four great winds,

Set in its years as in a mist of rain

At edge of twilight, when a narrow sound,

Silver in silver air,

Pricks through each crack of the short, half-lit hour,

Such was its look and with that look was bound

That of dim, fast-kept Aprils, crowded close,

At every chimney, and about each door

That April came when she was four years old,

And passed. And crowding on sad August came.

Picked to the bone our roads lay in the blaze

Of sun. On the cracked hedge a month-olddust

Stuck thick as meal from top-twigs to the roots;

Each sound struck like a stone

Dropped into a choked well. By the peeling fence

Our dahlias lighted a flat, scarlet blaze,

Seen a field’s length across the stretched, hot land.

Blare, silence, draught. Then, of a sudden, Death!

In the same “A Victorian Village,” published in 1929, so clearly based on those memories of growing up in Huntingdon, now Waverly, she also pays glowing tribute to public school teachers, her chosen profession:

A teacher’s work is not obvious; it is often obscure; it is not set to the blare and flourish of trumpets ...In passing a public-school building, every American citizen should feel like uncovering his head, in salute to those within who are spending their span of years in the nobilities and sacrifices of the spacious, most ancient of professions. [quoted in the Sun, June 27, 1942, p.6]

No one will know for certain how many young minds she stimulated by her presentations in the classroom. At the colored high school on Saratoga street, founded by her principal, Reverend George Lewis Staley, 65 of the graduates she taught between 1897 and 1901 are listed by name in the Annual Reports of the Baltimore City School Commissioners. Their biographies have yet to be written, and their neighborhoods remain unidentified.[2] The same is true of the hundreds of women she taught at Western High School, including those she continued to meet with in retirement at her home on Harford road.

For a bibliography of her published work see: Alexander Wirth, Complete Bibliography of Lizette Woodworth Reese, 1937, available on line at http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/007921827. It is perhaps fitting to conclude with Wirth’s flowery tribute to Miss Reese in his introduction:

While singing the praises of a lovely little lady a great fear haunts me lest my effort prove unworthy of her genius. Henry L. Mencken ranked Miss Reese with Edgar Allan Poe, and well he may, for he is not alone in his high tribute. Amy Lowell said that “her ‘Tears’ was as fine a sonnet as any by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.”

[1] from 1870 to 1887 David Reese, carpenter, Lizette’s father?, is listed as living at 392 Harford Avenue in East Baltimore (City directories).

[2] one such graduate was Katie Locks. According to the family historian, Mary Katherine Locks (1882-1959), was the granddaughter of John W. Locks, a prominent mortician. She married John Wesley Woodhouse. To date no one has undertaken class histories of the known graduates of the colored high school, or for that matter, individual biographies..

Baltimore Sun photos, October 26, 1947

There are two opposing monuments in Wyman Park, one in memory of two generals of the Confederacy here shown being installed on one side of the park, and one in memory of Marylanders who served the Union on the opposite side of the park. Should the Confederate memorial be taken down and given away? The image on the left was taken in sculptor Fraser’s studio. This was a major commission for her and she was widely praised for how well she accomplished it. Photographs from the editor’s collection.


In addition to features in Now and Then on neighbors in Remington, Upton, and Harlem Park, there will be a report on the future of two controversial monuments, the topic of:

Baltimore History Evenings at the Village Learning Place

2521 St. Paul Street, Baltimore

February 18, 2016

7:00 Reception, 7:30 Program


The Confederate Monument Controversy and Beyond

The Baltimore Commission to Review Baltimore’s Public Confederate Monuments has voted on their recommendations to the Mayor. The Commission's work is not done, the Mayor has not yet decided, and the public controversy will continue. But now is a good time to reflect on what the discussion so far has revealed and to think about where we go from here. Whatever happens to the monuments, our story and our need to tell it goes on. The speakers are:

Elizabeth M. Nix, Assistant Professor of History, University of Baltimore, Member of the Baltimore Commission on Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP) and the Commission on Public Confederate Monuments.

Eli Pousson, Director of Preservation and Outreach, Baltimore Heritage.

Tom Chalkley, Graphic Artist and Muralist.

Michael S. Franch, Historian, Former President, Baltimore City Historical Society

Former BCHS President, Ed Papenfuse will also offer some suggestions at the Maryland Historical Society on September 8 entitled Past and Future Monuments of the Monumental City: Finding our Way based in part on an essay published on his blog.

The next issue of the Gaslight is scheduled for the first week in May. Now and Then will feature stories centered on these children of Remington and their neighbors at the Johns Hopkins Colored Asylum on West 31st Street.

The “Uncle John Yagle” noted in the photograph lived at 2802 Huntingdon Avenue, while the Orphan Asylum, intended to train colored girls for domestic service in what was an expanded summer residence of Governor/Mayor/U.S. Senator William Pinkney White, is no longer extant. The asylum was abandoned and turned over to the Johns Hopkins Department of Psychology for an experimental lab by 1923, the year the last girls housed there obtained their majority. It was demolished sometime after 1931 for the expansion of the hospital now on the site. The row houses opposite on 31st Street were all built in 1894, the same year in which orphan asylum opened. They are still intact, some with formstone added and a few cracks caused by the digging of the connection from Druid Hill reservoir to Montebello in 1931.

an excerpt from the 1927 aerial survey of Baltimore with the numbers indicating, 3) the Johns Hopkins Colored Orphan Asylum buildings, then in use as a psychological laboratory, 2) the 1894 row houses on West 31st Street, and 1) the home of Jacob Y[e]agle at 2802 Huntingdon Avenue.

If any reader knows what school steps the children are standing on in the photograph, please let the editor know at baltimoregaslight@gmail.com, and next time learn about the boys, the orphans, and their neighbors in the Gaslight. For background reading on the history of Remington, see BCHS board member and webmaster Kathleen Ambrose’s

available from Amazon.

The next issue will also feature The Death of a Merchant Marine, who was buried out of 501 North Monroe Street, and the Fairfield shipyard where the Liberty Ship on which he met his fate was built.

501 North Monroe Street, Now and Then

It is a story, not only of the fallen sailor, the first merchant marine in Baltimore to be buried with military honors, but one that touches on the 6,000 African Americans from Baltimore that worked at the Fairfield shipyard that built his ill-fated ship, along with the Frederick Douglass and hundreds of others in rapid succession.

home and office of Dr. D.N.E. Campbell at the time of his death in 1942

Now and Then will conclude next time with Is There a Doctor in the House, a story about an MD/inventor/lyricist who lived and had his offices on North Carey and McCulloh streets. Dr. David Newton Emanuel Campbell held several patents including one on an early inhaler, and on a fire escape ladder, wrote lyrics to popular music such as the 1913 She Loves Me So She Won’t Say No, and was general secretary of the International Uplift League, an early civil rights organization in Baltimore that among its many causes, petitioned the King of England on behalf of the welfare of the negroes of Jamaica (his place of birth) during the Red Scare. As a result Dr. Campbell was investigated by the FBI, but nothing came of it. His rented office and home at 1528 Mcculloh is still standing, but his longtime office and home which he owned on North Carey Street is a vacant lot. He is listed in the directories as continuing his practice on McCulloh, although his obituary in the Afro indicated that when he died at age 69, he had been retired for sixteen years. The obituary is open to question however, as it also said he died at City Hospital, but his death certificate indicates he died at Crownsville State Hospital near Annapolis.

Until next time …

Be sure to follow the activities of the BCHS on the web site, http://www.baltimorecityhistoricalsociety.org/ where you will find a calendar of events relating to the city’s history and information on how to join the society. We need your support. If you have a story to share about neighbors and their neighborhoods, or any other short narrative related to the history of the city, send it to baltimoregaslight@gmail.com. Contributions are welcome as are suggestions for future issues of the Gaslight.

No comments:

Post a Comment