Mary was born in early 1757, the sixth and youngest child of John Reister and Margaret Sohn. She was still just a baby when her father patented the "Reister's Desire" land tract in Baltimore County the following year, and shortly after he moved the family there.
In 1781, John Reister broke his property "Brotherly Love" into smaller lots for several of his children. Mary, in her turn, was deeded a half-acre with a small house, located south of the Reisters' inn.
Two years later, on October 14, 1783, Mary married John Beckley, a blacksmith. He, too, was of German descent, believed to be the son of Mathias and Elizabeth. John took over the blacksmith shop established about eight years prior by his new father-in-law.
Perhaps as a wedding gift, John Reister deeded John Beckley a quarter-acre lot with a house from his original "Reister's Desire" land in August of 1786. Reister promised to "warrant and forever defend the aforesaid lott or parcell of land and premisses unto him the said John Bachley his heirs and assigns forever against any person or persons whatsoever", in exchange for five shillings sterling, and an annual rent of six dollars.
While the oldest part of the house dated back to 1779, the Beckleys added on to the structure. By 1798, it was listed on tax records as a two-story brick building, twenty-nine feet by fourteen feet, with a fifteen-by-fifteen brick kitchen.
John Beckley passed away on December 5, 1806 at the age of 50.
As John left no will, Mary was appointed administratrix of his estate in February of 1807. By April, her estate inventory totaled $142.12, including:
"1 bedstead and bedding, 2 chests, 1 lot of wearing apparel, 1 pair speckticles and one pair knee buckles, 1 case of razors, 1 looking glass, 1 chest, 1 bedstead and sacking bottom, 1 walnut table and a desk, 1 stove, 15 chairs, 1 table and a candlestand, 1 bedstead and furniture, 1 small bedstead under bed and quilt, 1 lot of books and a clothes brush, 1 looking glass, 2 old spinning wheels and reel, ten course linen sheets and one fine, 4 old bed quilts 4 hand towels + 2 table cloths, 1 bedsted bed and furniture, 1 folding table, 1 lot of plates and dishes, 3 decanters 3 tumblers, 1 lot of tea ware, 8 bottles, 1 cutting box, 1 cow, 2 iron shovels + one garden rake + one hoe, 1 drag and fork, 1 lot of crockery, 1 lot of pewter and finery, 1 lot of wooden ware, 3 flat irons 2 dripping pans 2 ladles 1 fleshfork, 1 sow and pigs, 4 pots 2 frying pans and potlid, 3 kettles, 1 cittchen cupboard and coffee mill, 3 dough trays and churn, 3 barrels 3 tubs, 1 lot of old blacksmith tools and some old iron, 1 grindstone and slate, 1 wooden morter and old ax."The following year, Mary was appointed guardian of John Beckley's "orphan" children: Juliet Ann, John, Philip, Elizabeth, Jacob, and Dorothy.
Mary passed away four years later, on June 8, 1812, at the age of 56. The guardianship of the younger Beckley children would fall to John Jr., who had taken over his father's blacksmith shop.
The Beckleys' house still remains today, at the corner of Main Street and Cockeys Mill Road. For many years, it remained in the hands of Reister descendants. In the early 1900s, the house was purchased by the Naylors and became a popular ice cream parlor.
John and Mary's children were:
- Julia Beckley, c1785-1854, unmarried
- John Beckley, 1788-1871, husband of (1) Urith Geary & (2) Juliann Gore
- Philip Beckley, 1793-1860, husband of Rebecca Choate
- Elizabeth Beckley, c1794-1974, wife of Solomon Choate
- Jacob Beckley, 1796-1874, husband of Matilda Wilson
- Dorothy Beckley, 1801-1869, wife of Elijah Gore
FamilySearch.org (inventory & Orphan's Court records)
Maryland Archives (marriage & land records, Historic Sites Inventory Survey)
- Ice Cream Parlor Photos
- Reister's Desire by Lillian Bayly Marks, 1975.