Saturday, March 1, 2014

Jacob Medairy

[Ed. Note: This month's blog post was co-written by Ron Robinson, a direct descendant of Jacob Medairy.]

March 9th marks 229 years since the death of Jacob Medairy.  There are many alternate spellings of his surname (Madary, Madory, Madeiry, Madeira, Madarea, Mathery), not uncommon in early records.  In some cases, his name even underwent spelling changes within a single document!

Jacob's time-worn gravestone is the second oldest surviving marker in the cemetery.

Lieth the boddy
of jacob Madary
Departed his Life
march the 9, 1785
Aged 50 years
Jacob Medairy was the eldest son of Hans Jacob Medairy and Hester Rudin.  He was born in Lausen, Switzerland and christened Hans Jacob Madory at St. Niklaus Church in Lausen on January 17, 1734 (Hans was later dropped from his name).  He came to America with his parents and younger brother Sebastian aboard the ship "Loyal Judith", arriving at Philadelphia on September 3, 1739.  He relocated from Pennsylvania to Maryland during the French and Indian War, settling in Reisterstown in 1762.   Jacob was one of the first permanent settlers of Reisterstown, along with John Reister, who had settled here in 1758, and Daniel Bower, in 1761.

On April 3, 1762, Jacob married Catherine Salome Bower, eldest sister of Daniel Bower (original spellings Bauer and Baur) and first of six children of Sir John Bauer and Catherine Hornus.  Catherine Salome Bower was born November 25, 1737 in Strasbourg, Alsace.   After the death of her father, Catherine came to America with her brother Daniel, sister Margaret, and their mother, settling in York County, Pennsylvania.

After their marriage in 1762, Jacob and Catherine Medairy located near present-day 147 Main Street, where he built a log house and a storehouse, and became a trader;  their eldest son, Jacob, was born there in 1763.   On August 26, 1769, Jacob obtained legal title to the land from Rev. Benedict Swope, who had obtained a 450-acre tract in 1767.
It is likely that Jacob and other early inhabitants leased their properties prior to purchasing them.  The old deeds indicate that the early settlers in Reisterstown were well educated and had sufficient funds to purchase their lands.  An illustration of the prominence of these early settlers can be found in some early court cases.  In two such cases, involving overdue promissory notes, Joseph Perrigo vs. Jacob Madeira and Mark Alexander vs. Jacob Madeira, the attorneys of record for Jacob Medairy were William Paca and Samuel Chase, both later signers from Maryland of the Declaration of Independence.

During the Revolutionary War, Jacob Medairy had a shoe manufacturing business at Reisterstown, supplying shoes to the Maryland Council of Safety for use by the troops, as noted in their Journal of proceedings:

Friday, November 8th, 1776

"The Council of Safety contracted with Jacob Madeira for two hundred pair of shoes, and ordered that Western Shore Treasurer pay to Jacob Madeira sixty pounds, for the above contract."
In Peter Shepherd's Return for Baltimore County, dated March 5, 1778, Jacob Medairy's name is listed among those who took the Oath of Fidelity to the State of Maryland during the Revolutionary War.
During the early days of the Revolutionary War, trade between Pennsylvania and Baltimore brought many Conestoga wagons through Reisterstown, necessitating the need for more taverns.   Both John Reister and Daniel Bower had earlier established taverns in the town.   In 1779, Jacob Medairy built the Yellow Tavern at 151 Main Street, directly opposite present-day Cockeys Mill Road.  According to local lore, he located the tavern where he did to prevent the road from going through to Pennsylvania, thereby blocking access of the Pennsylvania traders to the Baltimore markets.  Jacob's efforts were unsuccessful, and road was built around the tavern, which was nick-named "Spite House" as a result.  This accounts for the "S" curve in Main Street which still exists to this day.
The Yellow Tavern became famous for fine wines and liquors, and it was where the first Masonic Lodge was organized.  It survived well into the 20th century, known as Central Hotel and finally Hobbs' Hotel, when it was razed in 1948.

Jacob and Catherine Medairy were members of the First German Reformed Church in Baltimore Town, which had a congregation in Reisterstown.

Jacob Medairy died on March 9, 1785 at the age of 50.  His personal inventory, "An Inventory of Goods and Chattels of Jacob Madarea, late of Baltimore County, deceased" was filed on April 25, 1785.  Valued at 107 pounds and 10 shillings, his personal estate gives an interesting glimpse into 18th century life:
"The wearing apparel of the deceased, some books, 3 tables, 6 new chairs and 5 old ones, 1 bed bedstead sheets, a small looking glass, a stove and pipe, an old dough trough, an hour glass and box, a pair of and irons, a shovel and tongs, a ladle shimmer, flesh forks and a grid iron, a candle mould, a meat seive and flat irons, 3 iron pots, an old skellet and a frying pan, 1 desk, tea ware, stone muggs, 1 dozen large stone plates, 7 small ones, 2 small dozen dishes, a quart bowl and butter boat, a tea kettle, 6 knives and forks, a knife box, 6 bread basket, an old chest, 2 brass candlesticks, 3 iron candlesticks, 3 pair of snuffers, 6 silver tea spoons, 3 pewter dishes (old), 12 old pewter plates, 4 small basons, a tin coffee pot lamp and strainer, a pine cupboard, 2 stock glasses, 1 bed bedstead and furniture, 4 snuff bottles, 8 three-pint case bottles and an old case, 1 tea chest, 5 tea servers, a small looking glass, 12 pewter spoons, a stone pickling pot and an old bell, 3 small kegs, a tin pint quart and funnel, 2 half hogsheads, 3 tubs, old barrels and casks, a dung fork and hoe, 2 old spades and mattock, a pair of maul rings and wedges, an old cask with some vinegar, 4 old tubs, a cow and calf, one old horse, a colt, 2 shoats, a saddle and bridle, pot tack, an old ax, 24 pounds tobacco, a pair of old cotton cards, 2 pair of old sheets and curtains, 3 tubs, 2 pails, 2 piggins, butter churn, 2 coarse bed ticks, sheet, bedstead and cord, 10 pounds of feathers, 1 course blanket and 2 small bags, a pair of old iron traces and collar, 12 old flower barrels, 2 old wheels, an old wool wheel, some thread and flax, and sundry articles of goods."
Catherine Bower Medairy, Jacob's widow, died around October 4, 1800, while visiting her sister, Margaret Myers at Hampstead Hill in Baltimore.  It is unclear where Catherine was buried.

Jacob and Catherine had eight children:
  • Jacob Medairy III, 1763-1845, husband of Catherine Musser
  • Margaret Medairy, 1764-1841, wife of John Mackelfresh
  • John Medairy, 1765-1839, husband of Mary Aston
  • Daniel Medairy, c1767-18??, husband of Eleanor Stocksdale
  • Catherine Medairy, 1770-1826, wife of William Fleetwood
  • Charles Medairy, c1770-????
  • Susannah Medairy, c1775-1832
  • Maria Medairy, 1780-17??
Today, 147 Main Street is a private residence, and 151 Main Street is a service station.

Sources: (estate inventory)

Google Maps

Maryland Archives (Oath of Fidelity, Maryland Council of Safety Journal, land records & Historic Sites Inventory Survey)

Reisterstown Library
  • The Early Days of Reisterstown and Vicinity by Dr. Isaac Newton Dickson, 1869.
  • Maryland: A Guide to the Old Line State by the Federal Writers' Project, 1940.
  • The Medairy Family of Maryland 1565-1971 by Bernard John Medairy, Jr, 1971.
  • Reisterstown by Gayle Neville Blum, 2010.
Ron Robinson

Cemetery photos © AgateGS

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