On Saturday morning, February 4th, 1814, I was baptized in the Patapsco, by Elder Lewis Richards, the ice having been cut for the purpose. It was more than a foot thick, and the spectators, with many of my old companions among them, stood on the ice within a few yards of where I was buried, and went away saying, ‘He is mad ; he’ll not stick to that long.’
A native of Princeton, New Jersey, Spencer Houghton Cone moved from Philadelphia to Baltimore in 1812. He left behind a successful career as a actor and found work as the treasurer and bookkeeper for the Baltimore American newspaper and soon, together with his brother-in-law John Norvell, decided to purchase the Baltimore Whig.
In November 1813, after months of religious reflection, Cone found a copy of the Works of John Newton at a local book auction. Inspired by John Newton (a former slave ship captain who composed the hymn Amazing Grace), Cone began to hear voices and pray intensely. One night in early February, he paced back and forth in his attic until finally he had a vision for his own salvation:
I felt as if plunged into a bath of blood divine — I was cleansed from head to foot — guilt and the apprehension of punishment were both put away ; tears of gratitude gushed from my eyes in copious streams.
Just a few days later, Spencer Cone joined the First Baptist Church and, undeterred by the cold weather, insisted on being baptized immediately in the frozen Patapsco River.
Extream cold & hard Frost last Night which continued all this day, wind North – them 16 Went to Town, return’d to dinner, another Lamb last Night – Coldest day ths Winter.
From the journal of Captain Henry Thompson, February 4, 1814. Courtesy the Friends of Clifton.
On February 4, 1814, John George Jackson arrived in Baltimore at the factory of Alexander McKim. A prominent Virginia politician, lawyer and land-owner, Jackson had recently started to develop a substantial industrial community near his home in Clarksburg, Virginia. As a keen observer of the growth and development of Baltimore and Pittsburgh, Jackson knew he could find support for his new venture in the city. At McKim’s factory, he hired skilled workers, including millwrights and blacksmiths, a joiner, saddler and other artisans. He also purchased heavy machinery for his new mill, iron furnace and tannery.
Business from men like Jackson helped Baltimore’s industrial economy expand in the early 1800s. In 1814, Robert and Alexander McKim built a new iron-works, one of the first factories in the city driven by steam power, on French Street in Old Town. Just a few days after his arrival in Baltimore, Jackson received authorization from the Virginia state legislature to convert a former grist mill on Elk Creek into a cotton and woolen mill. Virginia also granted Jackson’s request to lay out a town for his workers known as “Mile’s End” near Clarksburg. In a letter to his wife Mary Sophia Meigs, Jackson anticipated the new factory and saltworks to bring, “a pretty smart revenue to me, or it would be idle to go on the way I do.”