Monthly Archives: January 2014

Wendel Bollman, self-taught engineer and “Master of the Road,” born in Baltimore

Wendel Bollman, C.E. (1814-1884)
Photo courtesy of Dr. Stuart Christhilf from The Engineering Contributions of Wendel Bollman, 1966.

On January 21, 1814, Ann B. Bollman and Thomas Bollman welcomed the birth of their son Wendel Bollman. Thomas Bollman worked as a baker with a shop at the corner of Water Street and Public Alley (known as Grant Street today) and served in the militia during the Battle of Baltimore.Thomas Bollman died at age 44 on April 17, 1819 when Wendel was only 5 years old.

When Wendel was a teenager, nearly 14 years after the Battle of Baltimore, he joined a group of local boys marching in a parade to celebrate the construction of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad on July 4, 1828. Over the next few decades, thousands of people from Baltimore joined the railroad and Wendel Bollman among them. His career was more exceptional than most, however, as in 1848, he became the “Master of the Road” for the B&O. Bollman is remembered as an exceptional self-taught engineer whose innovative iron bridges the helped support the rapid growth of the railroad in the 1850s and 1860s.

On January 19, 1814, Captain William Wade and the Chasseur  sailed from Port Deposit and escaped the British blockade of the Chesapeake Bay:

At half past meridian got under way from Point Look Out, and stood down the bay.  Left the U.S. frigate Adams at anchor.  At 3 P.M. discovered three sail standing up the bay by the wind—immediately beat to quarters and cleared ship for action.  At 20 m. past 3, spoke the headmost, which proved to be a schooner from Norfolk for Baltimore—received from her information of the number and situation of the enemy below; hove too until dark.  Off New Point, he heard the report of a gun; we supposed it to be the Admiral’s 8 o’clock gun; passed one 74 and two brigs at anchor. – At 10 P.M. discovered two large ships at anchor in the Middle Channel—supposed them to be frigates; hauled our wind and run close in with Cape Henry; finding we were not perceived, made sail and went to sea.

From the journal of the Chasseur, excerpted in Baltimore American, June 2nd, 1814, Maryland Historical Society.

Captain William Wade left Baltimore on January 15 and found little success as a privateer in the first several months of 1814. When Thomas Boyle (still making his way back to Baltimore after a bruising battle with the Hibernia) took over as commander in July, the Chasseur embarked on a remarkable cruise to the British Isles, capturing an astonishing number of prizes,  and earning the nickname the “Pride of Baltimore” from the Niles Weekly Register.

Special thanks to Baltimore Heritage volunteer Dennis Lilly and the Maryland Historical Society for helping us share excerpts from the ship’s log from now through April. Continue to follow along for more updates on William Wade, Thomas Boyle and the Chasseur in the months ahead!

On January 19, 1814, John Henry Fusselbaugh, a resident of East Street in Old Town, died. Fusselbaugh was survived by his wife, Barbara Fusselbaugh, and his son William, born in May 1800 making him only 13 years old when his father passed away. Decades later, an obituary for Fusselbaugh’s grandson captured a very brief biography:

“John Henry Fusselbaugh was a native of Germany, and at an early day took up his residence in Baltimore. Here he owned a large sand bank and was a dealer in building materials until his death, in 1814.”

Master Commandant Robert T. Spence: “to request permission, to have the sails of the Ontario, made at this place”

Baltimore January 18. 1814

I beg leave to trespass on your time a moment, to request permission, to have the sails of the Ontario, made at this place; as I understand they have not yet commenced at Washington.
I have also to ask leave, to open a Rendezvous at New York, as Captain Ridgely having nearly completed his compliment, is about to close at that place. Seamen are easily obtaind there tho’ they are scarce, both here, and at Philadelphia.— I have the honor to be, with great respect your Obt Servt.

R. T. Spence

From a January 18, 1814, letter by Master Commandant Robert T. Spence to Secretary of the Navy William Jones. See previous letter from January 9, 1814.

Source: The Naval War of 1812: A Documentary History, Volume III, Part 2 of 7, p.20.

18 –  Altho yesterday was a beautiful and clear day, this morning presents a most violent Snow Storm which has partially continued all day  – Went to Town & drove a Mule in my Gig.  din’d with Mr. Jo. Sterrett, Jas. Sanderson in company from Alexandria – Hung up our Bacon to Smoak

From the journal of Captain Henry Thompson, January 18, 1814. Courtesy the Friends of Clifton.

17th  – Mild & Clear day – the Roads are bad, in consequence of the Thaw –  Went to Town & return’d to Dine with Mr. Nicols, who had a pleasant party  My hands busy trimming Orchard at Furley – Bot Cow & Calf $35

From the journal of Captain Henry Thompson, January 17, 1814. Courtesy the Friends of Clifton.

In May 1818, an assessment of Thompson’s property noted that he held 10 enslaved people—likely including the “hands” who worked to trim the orchard at Furley Hall on January 17.

Source: National Register of Historic Places, Clifton Park, Baltimore, (Independent City), Maryland, National Register # 07000941 – see Section 8, 3, citing Baltimore County Commission on Tax.