Saturday, August 1, 2015

Frank L. Dorsey

August 30th marks 88 years since the death of Frank Louis Dorsey.
Frank was born on July 3, 1893 in Louisville, Maryland, the second son of James M. Dorsey and Fannie Bell Stocksdale.  His father James was the son of Irish immigrants, and grew up working on the family's farm in Baltimore County.

In the 1900 census, the Dorsey family was living in Carroll County.  His father James was working as a farmer, and one of the farm hands, Adam Miller, was living with them.  James and Fannie had been married nine years prior, and had three young sons:  Harry, Frank, and James.
Sometime shortly after this census, the Dorseys moved to a farm in Reisterstown.  It was around this time that a photo was taken of the family.  The identity of the girl in the picture is unknown.
Frank's mother Fannie passed away on June 26, 1907 at the age of 43 from an ovarian tumor.

In 1910, teenage Frank was living with his father and brothers in Reisterstown.  His elder brother Harry was listed as being a laborer on the farm, while Frank and younger brother James had no occupation.
Both Frank and Harry were students at Franklin High School, with Harry graduating in 1910, followed by Frank two years later in 1912.  Oddly, their younger brother James does not appear in any of the school's Dial yearbooks.  The 1912 Dial gives interesting glimpses of Frank's time there:  his nickname was Shortie, his "greatest need" was an automobile, and he was famous for his good humor.

Frank also played on Franklin's baseball team.  According to a passage in the yearbook, written mid-season:
"This year the managers arranged a very ambitious schedule with some of the strongest schools in the city and state including McDonough, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, Maryland Agricultural College Reserves, Loyola High School, Westminster High School, and Western Maryland College Freshman.  The weather prevented much early practice and consequently the playing was rather ragged, but there was a noted improvement in each game.  Finally the team struck its stride, started a winning streak and shows fair promise of keeping on winning until the close of the year."
During World War I, Frank enlisted as a private on August 28, 1918, serving in the Supply Company of the 72nd Infantry.  Not much is known about his brief service in the war, which came to an end two and a half months later.  Frank was discharged from service on January 30, 1919.  The Dial yearbook from that year included Frank on the Franklin High School Honor Roll of graduates who had served during the war.
In the 1920 census, Frank and both of his brothers were still living at home with their father.  Harry was listed as a clerk for the railroad, while Frank and James worked at home on the farm.  The family had hired a housekeeper, Sallie Gittinger, who lived with them.
Sometime during the 1920s, Frank married a woman named Catherine, but  sadly, they only had a few years together at most.  Frank passed away on August 30, 1927 at the age of 34 from peritonitis.

Sources: (census & WWI records)

  • Year: 1900; Census Place: Woolerys, Carroll, Maryland; Roll: 620; Page: 4A.
  • Year: 1910; Census Place: District 4, Baltimore, Maryland; Roll: T624_550; Page: 21B.
  • Year: 1920; Census Place: District 4, Baltimore, Maryland; Roll: T625_654; Page: 18A.
Baltimore Sun
  • "Deaths." Date: 2 September 1927; Page: 17.
Maryland Archives (death records)

Reisterstown Library

  • Dial, Franklin High School, 1912 & 1919.
  • Dorsey Photo
Cemetery photos © AgateGS

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

John & Mary Neel

July 23rd marks 100 years since the death of John A. Neel.
John Neel was born on April 30, 1844 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the son of Hugh Neel and Mary Ann Neeper.  His grandfather was Thomas Neel, who served as a Lieutenant in the Fifth Company of Colonel Watson's Battalion during the American Revolutionary War.  According to John's nephew Albert Gore, Thomas "was a powerful man physically.  Captain Patrick Marshall of the same battalion having been killed in the Battle of Germantown, Lieut. Neel picked Marshall's body up and carried it on his back for a mile.  This was during the heat of the engagement when the bullets were flying fast."

The Neel family moved south to Baltimore County sometime prior to the 1850 census, when John's father Hugh's property was valued at $4,000.  Hugh and his eldest son Thomas were working as farmers, while John and his sister Rebecca were attending school.

By 1860, the value of Hugh's real estate had more than doubled to $10,000.
Mary E. Ducker was born on November 27, 1851 in Maryland, the daughter of Henry Howard Ducker and Elizabeth Ann Devries, and a granddaughter of Jeremiah and Julia Ducker (see the blog post from May 2014).  In the 1860 census, Mary's father Henry was a farmer, owning $8,000 worth of real estate.  Eight-year-old Mary was attending school along with siblings Kate, George, and Bill.
During the Civil War, John Neel enlisted in the Union Army on August 14, 1862, serving originally as a Private in Company B of the Eighth Maryland Infantry Regiment.  According to the muster rolls, he was described as five feet, eleven and a half inches tall, with a fair complexion, gray eyes, and dark hair.  In June of 1863, John was promoted to Corporal, but soon after was hospitalized in Washington, DC, sick with typhoid fever, from July through October of 1863.  He was later promoted to Sergeant in August of 1864, and again on October 15, 1864, to Commissary Sergeant.  After the end of the War, John was mustered out of service on May 31, 1865.

Both John Neel and Mary Ducker lost their fathers during the 1860s.  John's father Hugh passed away in 1866, when John was twenty-two years old.  Henry Ducker passed away on his daughter Mary's eighteenth birthday, in 1869.

In the 1870 census, John was living in Reisterstown with his widowed mother Mary and siblings Rebecca and Joseph.  Mary had apparently inherited her husband's real estate, now valued at $17,500, and was keeping house while John and Joseph farmed the land.  The family also employed a domestic servant, thirteen-year-old Clara Keagey.

That same census year, Mary's family had moved in with her uncle Jeremiah T. Ducker in Woodensburg.  Jeremiah was a retired farmer, while Mary's widowed mother Elizabeth kept house.

John Neel and Mary Ducker were married on June 21, 1877 in Baltimore City.

Over the years, the Neels' household changed little, as the couple had no children.  John continued to work as a farmer, with Mary keeping house.  Clara Keagey worked for them as a domestic servant at least until the 1910 census.

Late in 1906, John Neel applied for a pension based on his service during the Civil War, claiming "partial inability to earn a support by manual labor" due to his age.  He was granted $6 per month, which was increased to $18 in 1912.
John Neel passed away on July 23, 1917 in Reisterstown at the age of 73.
After John's death, Mary applied for a widow's pension, and received $25 per month.  In the 1930 census, Mary was living with her two unmarried sisters, Ida and Sarah, at 216 Hanover Road in Reisterstown.
Mary's health took a turn for the worse, and in August of 1935, her niece's husband, Reverend S. H. Culler, wrote to the Bureau of Pensions requesting that her pension be increased:
"I am writing on behalf of Mrs. Neel who is helpless on her bed in Reisterstown, Maryland.  She is paralized and I fed her with a spoon during her illness which began in July ... She is getting $40.00 per month pension which I believe is below the amount she should receive because of her utter helplessness and her financial circumstances.  She is 84 years of age and in need of necessities and much extra care."
Rev. Culler's request was denied in September:
"The $40 per month pension which Mrs. Neel is now receiving is the maximum amount to which she is entitled under any existing pension law.  As the records in the case show that her marriage to the veteran on June 21, 1877 was subsequent to the period of the Civil War, she could have no title to the $50 rate ... It is regretted by this Service that under the law, no increase of pension can be made on account of the financial and physical condition of the above named widow."
Mary Neel passed away two months later, on November 4, 1935, just weeks shy of her 84th birthday.

John & Mary Neel's signatures:

Sources: (census records & NSSAR application)

  • Year: 1850; Census Place: District 1, Baltimore, Maryland; Roll: M432_280; Page: 232B.
  • Year: 1860; Census Place: District 4, Baltimore, Maryland; Roll: M653_468; Page: 21.
  • Year: 1860; Census Place: District 4, Baltimore, Maryland; Roll: M653_468; Page: 8.
  • Year: 1870; Census Place: Reisterstown, Baltimore, Maryland; Roll: M593_569; Page: 281A.
  • Year: 1870; Census Place: District 4, Baltimore, Maryland; Roll: M593_569; Page: 238A.
  • Year: 1880; Census Place: District 4, Baltimore, Maryland; Roll: 495; Page: 555B.
  • Year: 1900; Census Place: District 4, Baltimore, Maryland; Roll: 606; Page: 10B.
  • Year: 1910; Census Place: District 4, Baltimore, Maryland; Roll: T624_550; Page: 13A.
  • Year: 1930; Census Place: District 4, Baltimore, Maryland; Roll: 846; Page: 10A.
Baltimore Sun
  • "Died."  Date: 24 July 1917; Page: 6.
  • "Deaths."  Date: 5 November 1935; Page: 21.
Fold3 (Civil War records)

Maryland Archives (marriage records)

National Archives (pension file)

Cemetery photos © AgateGS

Monday, June 1, 2015

John & Mary Beckley

June 9th marks 202 years since the death of Mary "Polly" Reister Beckley.
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.

In the 1970s, the Beckley house entered its current incarnation as the Ski Shoppe.

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

Sources: (inventory & Orphan's Court records)
Maryland Archives (marriage & land records, Historic Sites Inventory Survey)

Reisterstown Library
  • Ice Cream Parlor Photos
  • Reister's Desire by Lillian Bayly Marks, 1975.
Cemetery photos © AgateGS

Friday, May 1, 2015

Myrtle S. Eckhardt

May 1st marks 38 years since the death of Myrtle Sophia Eckhardt.
Myrtle was born on October 10, 1895, the second child of Charles Frederick Eckhardt and Myrtle Elizabeth Waltman.  Charles was the son of German immigrants, and was only four years old when his father, a veteran of the Mexican-American War, died.  Though her mother Myrtle was born in Maryland, her family came from Pennsylvania, where her father had worked as a carpenter.

In the 1900 census, the Eckhardts were living on North Wolfe Street in Baltimore City.  Father Charles, who worked for the Western Maryland Railroad, was listed as a freight "master".  Unlike their neighbors, he was listed as a home owner with a mortgage, rather than as a renter.  Myrtle was then the middle child of the family, between brothers Charles and Glyndon.  Also living in the household was a boarder, George Uhler, who was a laborer for the railroad.
In 1905, Charles and Myrtle purchased two lots of land in Glyndon, each about an acre, from Annie Jessop Hanna for $2,100.  The following year, they purchased an adjoining lot from John and Anna Gill for $390.  An atlas from 1915 shows the location of the Eckhardts' property on Central Avenue, opposite Albright Avenue.

Two more children had joined the family by the 1910 census:  nine-year-old Fred and seven-year-old Minnie.  Charles continued to work for the railroad as a local freight agent, and all of the children were attending school except for eldest son Charles.
Myrtle graduated from Franklin High School the next year, one of the 27 members of the class of 1911.  She had served as the secretary of the Franklin Literary Society and was an assistant editor for the Dial Yearbook.
Myrtle continued her studies at the Normal School (now Towson University), graduating in 1913.  She would later go on to attend Columbia University in New York, earning first her bachelor's, and after, her master's degree in education.

By the 1920 census, Myrtle was working as a public school teacher, living at home with her parents and three younger siblings.  Her elder brother Charles had married, and was living next door with his wife May.  Both he and brother Glyndon were listed as government clerks.
Ten years later in 1930, Myrtle's siblings had all moved out, though brother Charles' family still lived just next door.  Her occupation was now listed as a school supervisor in Carroll County.
In the 1940 census, the last census opened to the public, Myrtle was again listed as a school teacher.  Her father Charles, now 69 years old, had retired from the railroad.  All three of her brothers, Charles, Glyndon, and Frederick, now lived on Central Avenue with their families.
In all, Myrtle worked in the Allegheny, Baltimore, and Carroll County schools for more than four decades years before retiring.  As her niece Betty Nordwall recalls:
"She spent 44 years of her life teaching young people, preparing them to become good, hard working citizens in the modern generation.  She was very sincere about her path in life, always encouraging, always seeking ways to improve.  As part of her continuing education she traveled extensively throughout North America and Europe, bringing home many slides showing native costumes, folk dancing, and culture from each nation in addition to art and architecture.  These she shared with both school children and her family. ... She was born to educate and she did a excellent job."
Myrtle was also very active in the local community as a member of the Women's Club of Glyndon, the Community Senior Citizens, the Ladies Auxiliary to the Glyndon Fire Department, and the Baltimore County Historical Society, among many others.

In 1971, Myrtle published the booklet The Story of Glyndon for the town's centennial year, detailing its history, residents, places, and organizations.  For the country's bicentennial in 1976, she and Louise Goodwin researched and wrote a series of weekly articles on local history which appeared in the Community Times.
Though Myrtle never married, she was very close with her seven nieces and nephews, bringing back gifts from her travels and taking each on trips to New York City.  She ensured that they all graduated from college, and passed on the responsibility of contributing back to society.  In the summers, the extended family would gather together at the Meadows and Mills farm on Cockeys Mill Road (prior to Liberty Reservoir).  In later years, Myrtle often hosted family dinners at her home.

Myrtle passed away on May 1, 1977 at the age of 81.

Sources: (census records)

  • Year: 1880; Census Place: Shewsbury, York, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1207; Page: 460D.
  • Year: 1900; Census Place: Ward 9, Baltimore City, Maryland; Roll: 611; Page: 14B.
  • Year: 1910; Census Place: Election District 4, Baltimore, Maryland; Roll: T624_550; Page: 4B.
  • Year: 1920; Census Place: Election District 4, Baltimore, Maryland; Roll: T625_654; Page: 12A.
  • Year: 1930; Census Place: Election District 4, Baltimore, Maryland; Roll: 846; Page: 15B.
  • Year: 1940; Census Place: Baltimore, Maryland; Roll: T627_1504; Page: 2B.
Baltimore Sun
  • "Miss Eckhardt Dies At 81." Date: 3 May 1977; Page: A21.
Historic MapWorks

Maryland Archives (land records)

Betty Nordwall

Reisterstown Library
  • The Story of Glyndon by Myrtle Sophia Eckhardt, 1971.
  • Dial, Franklin High School, 1911.
  • "History Series Result Of Student's Question" by Eleanor Taylor, Community Times, 1975.
Cemetery photos © AgateGS

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Samuel & Rebecca Storm

April 9th marks 122 years since the death of Samuel Petrus Storm.
Samuel was born on September 4, 1807 in Adams County, Pennsylvania, the son of Petrus ("Peter") and Eva Storm.  Per the baptism records of the Sacred Heart Church in Conewago, he had at least three older siblings:  Anna Maria, Lucia, and Jacobus.  In the 1810 census, the Storm family was living near York, Pennsylvania.

Samuel moved to Maryland sometime prior to the 1830s, as on December 4, 1832, he married Rebecca Rachel Richardson Larsh, a widow with an eleven-year-old son, James (see the blog post from April 2013).  Rebecca's first husband, Charles Larsh, had died in 1829.  Samuel and Rebecca had three known children born in the 1830s, but the 1840 census indicates that there might have been another child;  four children under the age of fourteen were living in the household that year.

On September 12, 1846, during the Mexican-American War, Samuel Storm received a commission in the Baltimore County Militia's 36th Regiment.

For the 1850 census, Samuel served as an Assistant Marshal, and as such, swore to "make a true and exact enumeration of all the inhabitants within the district" and "faithfully collect the other statistics therein".  Assistant Marshals were paid two cents for each person they counted, ten cents per farm, fifteen cents for "each establishment of productive industry", and were allowed ten cents per mile "for necessary travel".  Samuel's name was included on each of the 490 pages of population schedules for Baltimore County's first district, including over 19,000 residents.  The forms for the 1850 census had 42 lines on each page, but interestingly, Samuel left the first and last lines blank on his forms - perhaps to make counting easier, with an even 40 names per page?

The Storm family was counted on the last census page for the district.  Appropriately, Samuel listed his occupation as "Deputy Marshall".  He was 42 years old, and owned real estate valued at $2,000.  Two children were living in the household, fourteen-year-old Samuel and ten-year-old Juliet, both of whom were attending school.
The following year, Samuel was elected to serve as Sheriff of Baltimore County, winning only by a close margin.  He received 1,966 votes, whereas his opponent William Duncan received 1,803 votes.  Samuel served a two-year term, from 1851 to 1853.
In the 1860 census, Samuel had no occupation given, and curiously, was not listed as owning any real estate.  His two children Samuel and Juliette were still living at home, with Samuel working as a clerk.  Living next door was his son Edwin, a hotel keeper, with his wife Sarah and infant son William.
Samuel Storm was a staunch Confederate supporter during the Civil War, serving as Captain of the Reisterstown Riflemen.  Samuel's son used to tell the story of how Union troops were going through the town in search of Captain Storm, who had hidden in the cellar of a house near the Lutheran Church on Main Street.  The cellar had a wide plank that covered a little stream, where the lady of the house stored cream, milk, and butter, and where Samuel chose to hide.  According to the tale, several Union soldiers went down into the cellar, but it was so dark, they couldn't see, and one of them accidentally walked into the stream.  The soldier yelled out, "Come and get me!  There is no damn Rebel down here!"  And Samuel was never found there.

The Storms' eldest son Edwin was just 33 years old when he passed away on April 17, 1867.  His widow Sarah and their four young children went to live with Samuel and Rebecca before the 1870 census, when they were all counted in one household.  Samuel was listed as a saddle maker, with Rebecca keeping house.  Son Samuel was working as a court clerk.  While Samuel's personal estate was valued at $500, and daughter-in-law Sarah's at $300, it is curious to note that Rebecca is the one listed as owning the real estate, valued at $1,200.
A map of Reisterstown from 1877 shows the location of the Storms' home, located at the south end of Main Street, between present-day Walgrove Road and Berrymans Lane.
Rebecca Storm passed away on July 28, 1875, at the age of 75.
In the 1880 census, Samuel Storm's occupation was given as magistrate.  His daughter Juliette and daughter-in-law Sarah were keeping house, while grandson William was apprenticed to a printer, and grandchildren Samuel and Rosa were attending school.  Also living in the household were Sarah's mother, who was listed as a nurse, and two boarders, Sarah Chew and her son Frank.
Tragedy struck on August 7, 1890.  Samuel and Rebecca's son William was vacationing with his wife Rosalie, daughter Edith, and son Bayard, at Rosecroft in St. Mary's County for the summer.  That afternoon, Rosalie and the children had gone swimming with a group of friends in St. Inigoes Creek, when a steamer passed by, causing an undertow which pulled several of the swimmers out into deeper waters, including Rosalie.  Edith went further into the water to try to save her mother.  Local oystermen were able to rescue nine people, but neither Rosalie nor Edith were among those saved.  A distraught William quickly returned home to Baltimore with Bayard.  A solemn double funeral was held a few days later, but Samuel Storm, near 84 years old, was unable to make the trip into the city for the service.

Samuel Storm passed away three years later on April 9, 1893.
Samuel and Rebecca's children were:
  • Edwin L. Storm, 1833-1867, husband of Sarah Keagey
  • Samuel William Storm, 1835-1916, husband of (1) Rosalie Clair Hancock and (2) Blanche Hackette
  • Juliette Rebecca Storm, 1838-1909, unmarried
Samuel Storm's Signature

Sources: (census records & map)
  • Year: 1810; Census Place: Heidelberg, York, Pennsylvania; Roll: 57; Page: 132.
  • Year: 1840; Census Place: District 5, Baltimore, Maryland; Roll: 162; Page: 161.
  • Year: 1850; Census Place: District 1, Baltimore, Maryland; Roll: M432_280; Page: 464A.
  • Year: 1860; Census Place: District 4, Baltimore, Maryland; Roll: M653_468; Page: 36.
  • Year: 1870; Census Place: Reisterstown, Baltimore, Maryland; Roll: M593_569; Page: 282A.
  • Year: 1880; Census Place: District 4, Baltimore, Maryland; Roll: 495; Page: 571B.
Baltimore Sun
  • "Maryland Election Returns." Date: 8 November 1851; Page: 1.
  • "Sheriff's Tax Notice." Date: 16 March 1852; Page: 4.
  • "Four Lives Lost." Date: 8 August 1890; Page: 1.
  • "Four Persons Drowned." Date: 9 August 1890; Page: 6.
  • "Suburbs And County." Date: 10 April 1893; Page: 10. (birth record)

Maryland Archives

Milestones in the History of Reisterstown, Maryland by Louise Bland Goodwin, 1966.

Reisterstown Library
  • Reister's Desire by Lillian Bayly Marks, 1975.
United States Census Bureau

Cemetery photos © AgateGS