Herod was born on October 25, 1796 in Baltimore County, Maryland, the sixth of Richard Choate and Jane Lowe's eleven children. His father Richard died in 1813, about a month after Herod's seventeenth birthday.
During the War of 1812, with the British attacking Maryland and Washington, DC, Herod volunteered as a substitute for his uncle David Lowe in August of 1814. He served in a company of cavalry under Captain Christopher Carnan. His duties included carrying dispatches between Major General Samuel Smith and Fort McHenry during the fort's bombardment by the British navy on September 13, 1814 (the battle which gave us our national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner"). In Carnan's Company, he also took part in "covering the retreat of the infantry who had advanced to attack the British troops led by Genl. Ross at North Point." Herod was discharged from service on November 1, 1814 at Towson.
After the war, Herod moved to Simpson County, Kentucky with his mother and several siblings. In the 1820 census, Herod, now about 24 years old, was listed as head-of-household, living with seven others.
Herod returned briefly to Baltimore County to marry Priscilla Harryman on November 2, 1824. Priscilla, born on November 18, 1804, was the daughter of Samuel Harryman and Elizabeth Wheeler, and the aunt of Amos Harryman, from last December's blog post. Priscilla traveled to Kentucky with her new husband, and their first child, Jesse Columbus Choate, was born there the following August. They stayed in Kentucky for a few more years, but were living in Reisterstown again by May 20, 1827, when Herod was appointed as Postmaster.
In 1836 and 1837, Herod purchased tracts of land from William and Rebecca Frush near Soldiers Delight Road (present-day Nicodemus Road), comprised of pieces of "Bachelors Fancy", "Clarks Park", "Soldiers Delight", and "Stevensons Plains Resurveyed". According to Choate family history:
"[The family] moved to a place with a substantial stone and brick house about a mile southwest of Cherry Hill, on Delight Road ... The house stood at the head of a valley or glen that gradually spread between two low ridges covered with pine trees. It was built into a bank, so that it appeared two stories and an attic from the front but three stories from the back. Originally it was two rooms on each floor with a chimney at each end. The two bottom rooms had dirt floors and huge open brick fireplaces where the cooking, baking and preserving were done. Later, additional rooms and a chimney were added to the east end, providing a root cellar for the basement and two bedrooms above. The timbers of the ceiling in the basement were hand-hewed solid logs."Around this time, Herod also began operating a chromium mine in Soldiers Delight. With the support of businessman and geologist Isaac Tyson Jr., Baltimore County became one of the world's leading sources of chrome in the mid-1800s, used in Europe to make a pigment for a popular yellow paint. One of the Choate mines can still be found today in the Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area, just a short hike from Deer Park Road.
In 1842, Herod was again appointed as Postmaster, this time for Owings Mills.
On November 26, 1846, the Choates' eldest son Jesse enlisted in the 1st Virginia Volunteers under Captain Fletcher H. Archer. His service during the Mexican-American War took him to Matamoras in Mexico, where he died of illness on April 5, 1847, at the age of 21.
In 1850, Herod was working as a farmer, owning real estate valued at $2,000. The family had five children: Georgianna, age 19; Mary, age 14; Elizabeth, age 12; David, age 9; and Ellen, age 6. The three middle children - Mary, Elizabeth, and David - were attending school. Two laborers were also living in the household, Samuel Fisher and Jacob Tilman.
By the 1860 census, the value of Herod's real estate had increased to $5,000, and he was again listed as a farmer. The couple's eldest daughter Georgianna had married and moved away, but the younger four children were still living at home, with David working on the farm. The family also employed a servant, Fanny Little.
In 1870, only two of the Choates' children remained at home, David and Elinor, now 27 and 25 years old, respectively. A six-year-old granddaughter, Alice O'Dell, who was in school, had come to live with the family. Herod, now 73 years old, was still farming along with his son David, and Priscilla was keeping house.
In 1871, Herod applied for a pension based on his service during the War of 1812. However, his application was rejected "by reason of insufficient service" on March 9, 1872; proof could not be found that he had served the required time, despite his having been granted 160 acres of bounty land in 1857 for the same service.
Priscilla Choate passed away on February 23, 1876 at the age of 71.
On June 5, 1877, Herod Choate's dairy was one of three in the Reisterstown area raided by thieves. Herod died the following week, on June 13, 1877, at the age of 80.
Herod and Priscilla's children were:
- Jesse Columbus Choate, 1825-1847
- Edward S. Choate, 1828-1829
- Georgianna Choate, 1831-1911, wife of Samuel Kirk Crosby
- Vilmina E. Choate, 1834-1834
- Mary Jane Choate, 1836-1894, wife of Evan Peddicord
- Elizabeth Harryman Choate, 1838-1867, wife of William Chapman O'Dell
- David Lowe Choate, 1840-1882
- Elinor "Ellen" Gill Choate, 1843-1881
Ancestry.com (census records)
- Year: 1810; Census Place: Soldiers Delight Hundred, Baltimore, Maryland; Roll: 13; Page: 568.
- Year: 1820; Census Place: Franklin, Simpson, Kentucky; Roll: M33_28; Page: 17.
- Year: 1850; Census Place: District 1, Baltimore, Maryland; Roll: M432_280; Page: 231A.
- Year: 1860; Census Place: District 4, Baltimore, Maryland; Roll: M653_468; Page: 25.
- Year: 1870; Census Place: District 4, Baltimore, Maryland; Roll: M593_569; Page: 258B.
- "Died." Date: 1 May 1847; Page: 2.
- "Baltimore County Items." Date: 9 June 1877; Page: 4.
- "Finksburg resident digs deep to unearth mining history at Soldiers Delight." Date: 5 November 2012.
Fold3 (pension file)
Harald B. "Johnny" Johnsson
Maryland Archives (land records)
- Choate Family of Baltimore County, Maryland by Jesse Choate Phillips, 1979.