Sunday, May 24, 2015

Local History: By Any Other Name

Have you ever wondered where the names of the communities and streets in our region came from? Here's a partial list:

  • Emerson: named after Ralph Waldo Emerson, the American essayist and poet who led the 19th Century Transcendentalist movement. Names of streets and neighborhoods in Emerson are derived from his works.
  • Atholton High School: named for Athol Manor, the historic home in nearby Martin Road Park built by the Reverend James McGill who was granted the land parcel "Athol" in 1732 to establish a new Church of England in Maryland. He supposedly named the granite building after his boyhood home in Scotland.
    • Freetown Road: the road where Atholton High School sits is named after Freetown, established in 1845 by 17 freed slaves from Athol on 150 acres of land from the estate.
  • BWI Marshall Airport: the airport's name honors Baltimore-born Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American US Supreme Court Justice whose most famous victory as a lawyer was in the landmark 1954 Supreme Court civil rights case Brown v. Board of Education.
    • Originally named Friendship International Airport in 1947 after the nearby Friendship Methodist Church. 

Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall Exhibit at BWI Marshall Airport

  • Carroll County, MD: named for Charles Carroll of Carrollton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, U.S. Senator, farmer and industrialist (including Hockley Forge and Mill in Elkridge, MD). 
    • His direct descendants still live in Howard County's private Doughoregan Manor next to Centennial Park. 
    • The city of New Carrollton, MD is also named for him, as are locations throughout the US.
  • Centennial Park: named after its signature feature, Centennial Lake, which was formed by damming the Centennial Branch of the Little Patuxent River.
  • Clarksville, MD: named for the family of James R. Clark, who started farming on plots of land obtained from Charles Carroll in 1797. 
    • His descendant James A. Clark Jr. was a glider pilot in WWII and the President of the Maryland Senate from 1979-1983. He established Program Open Space to preserve undeveloped land in Maryland, including 20% in densely-settled central Maryland.
    • The family still runs Clark's Elioak Farm on Route 108 which has a pumpkin patch, farm stand, petting zoo, and fiberglass displays from Ellicott City's defunct Enchanted Forest amusement park.

Artwork from Howard County Public Schools at Columbia Mall

  • Columbia, MD: loosely named after the Columbia Pike, an early name for US 29, with many of the ten Villages named after one of the original 350 land grants made by the Lords Baltimore. Street names in each sub-neighborhood are usually derived from the works of particular poets, artists or writers.
    • Village of Dorsey's Search: named for the Dorsey's Search parcel granted to John Dorsey of Hockley-in-the-Hole in 1696. The Dorsey family would remain prominent in Howard County and also built the historic homes Dorsey Hall and Belmont Manor.
    • Village of King's Contrivance: named after the restaurant opened in 1962 in the converted boyhood home of Judge James MacGill (a direct descendant of Athol's Reverend James McGill). The name was created by joining the word Contrivance used on several neighboring grants and King's to show the indirect origin of the grants.
    • Village of Oakland Mills: named for a 1796 grist mill and postal station for historic Oakland Manor, an 1811 home built on a plantation in what is now Wilde Lake.
    • Village of Wilde Lake: Columbia's first village was named after the lake formed in 1966 when Columbia was built, by damming a branch of the Patuxent River. Wilde Lake honors Frazar Wilde of Connecticut General Life Insurance Company, who raised $23M to fund Howard Research and Development Corporation to help develop Columbia.
  • Ellicott City, MD: named for the three Pennsylvania Quaker Ellicott Brothers (John, Andrew, and Joseph) who founded Ellicott's Mills as a water-powered flour mill and manufacturing town in 1772, and convinced local farmers including Charles Carroll to convert to growing wheat and begin fertilization of the tobacco-depleted land.
    • Joseph's son Andrew Ellicott was a famed surveyor who laid the boundary stones for the District of Columbia, finalized the survey of the Mason-Dixon line defining the boundary of Maryland with Pennsylvania and Delaware, and taught surveying skills to Merriweather Lewis prior to the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Historic Ellicott City

  • Fort Meade, MD: named for General George G. Meade, the Union commander at The Battle of Gettysburg in 1863 who would be eclipsed by Ulysses S. Grant in the final year of the war.
  • Gorman Road and Gorman Crossing Elementary School: named for US Senator from Maryland Arthur Pue Gorman, a prominent politician in the late 1800's and also a founding member in 1859 at age 20 of the Washington Senators, the first professional baseball club.
    • His daughter Grace "Daisy" Gorman Johnson built Overlook Farms in 1910 on Murray Hill Road (the home today of former ambassador Kingdon Gould Jr.). Daisy, MD in northwest Howard County is named for her.

Gorman Crossing Elementary School

  • Guilford, MD and Guilford Road: named after the Guilford factory and quarry in what is today King's Contrivance.
  • Howard County, MD: named for John Eager Howard, commander of the 2nd Maryland Regiment at the Battle of Cowpens and Governor of Maryland from 1788-1791. He also helped organize the B&O Railroad.
  • Lake Kittamaqundi, Columbia, MD: the lake at Town Center is named for the first Indian settlement in Howard County, meaning "meeting place".

Blankets reserve spots for watching the 4th of July fireworks
at Lake Kittamaqundi

  • Laurel, MD: named after the textile mill company town called Laurel Factory established in the early 1800's.
  • Little Patuxent Parkway: named after the Little Patuxent River (which forms the southern boundary of Howard County with Prince George's County), a tributary of the Patuxent River (named "Pawtuxent" by Captain John Smith on an exploratory voyage up the Chesapeake Bay in 1608).

The Maryland Flag bears the Calvert Coat of Arms

  • Maryland: The state of Maryland was named for Queen-Consort Henrietta Maria of France, the wife of King Charles I of England and mother of Charles II and James II. King Charles I granted the charter for a Catholic Maryland Colony in response to the petition of George Calvert, 1st Baron Baltimore, in 1632.
    • The Old Line State: Maryland's nickname was earned during the Revolution, when the Maryland Line (Continental Regulars) were the most reliable soldiers in Washington's army. 

    • The Maryland Line played a key role in the pivotal 1781 victories at Cowpens and Guilford Courthouse, and famously the Maryland 400 saved the American army at The Battle of Long Island in 1776 but were virtually annihilated after repeatedly charging against 2000 British troops and cannon during the retreat.

Continental Infantry

  • Prince George's County, MD: named after Prince George of Denmark, the husband of Queen Anne of Great Britain (Charles II's daughter who would ascend to the throne 7 years after the county's founding in 1695).
  • Savage, MD and Savage Mill: named after John Savage II, a Philadelphia merchant who loaned $20,000 to the Williams brothers to build the textile mill there.

Savage Mill

  • Silver Spring, MD: named after the 1842 mansion Silver Spring of anti-slavery activist Francis Preston Blair, who helped found the Republican Party in 1854. Blair (or his horse Selim) discovered a mica-flecked spring on the site in 1840 and decided to buy the land and build his summer house there. 
    • The original spring, located today in Acorn Park (named after Blair's 1850 acorn-shaped gazebo at the site), dried up in the 1920's because of blasting for construction of East-West Highway (MD 410). 
    • Blair was an advisor to twelve US Presidents from Andrew Jackson to Ulysses Grant. His residence across from the White House in Washington DC, Blair House, is the official guest house of the President today.
  • Stephens Road: named for C.Y. Stephens, a co-founder of High's Dairy Stores upon whose farmland Emerson now stands

    Stephens Manor at Emerson

  • Stone Lake: named for the lake formed from an old stone quarry in North Laurel.
  • Snowden River Parkway: inspired by the original name of the Patuxent River's Little Branch, Snowden's River of Patuxent, as shown on the original land grant to Richard Snowden in 1736.
  • US 29: Various names for this highway in our area:
    • Columbia Pike: reflects the route's origins as a toll road (i.e., turnpike) leading to the District of Columbia
    • 29th Infantry Division Memorial Highway: commemorates the US Army Division originally formed from Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey National Guard units in WWI and featured for its prominent role in the WWII Normandy Invasion in the film The Longest Day.
  • Waverly Mansion: the mansion was re-christened after Sir Walter Scott's 1814 historical novel Waverley by George Howard (governor of Maryland from 1831-1833), who received the home as a wedding gift from his father John Eager Howard.
  • Whiskey Bottom Road: named for a low point near railroad tracks where trains would pick up Maryland Rye Whiskey from a Laurel distillery.

The Longest Day featured the 29th Infantry Division
during the Normandy Invasion

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