Category Archives: Everyday Life

Samuel Hopkins, father of philanthropist Johns Hopkins, dies in Anne Arundel County

Tobacco Prize Warehouse, 14 Pinkney Street, Annapolis, Jack Boucher, May 1960. HABS MD,2-ANNA,64-
Tobacco Prize Warehouse, 14 Pinkney Street, Annapolis, Jack Boucher, May 1960. HABS MD,2-ANNA,64-

On February 9, 1814, Samuel Hopkins died at home on his 500-acre tobacco farm in Anne Arundel County. Hopkins was survived by his wife Hannah Janey and eleven children—among them Johns Hopkins who was the second child born to the family on May 19, 1795.

Around 1807, the same year Quakers like the Hopkins family played a critical role in abolishing the slave trade throughout the British Empire, Samuel Hopkins emancipated most of the enslaved people on his farm and took Johns and his older brother out of school to work. By the time of his father’s death in 1814, Johns Hopkins had moved to Baltimore where, in 1812, he indentured with his uncle and local store-keeper Gerard T. Hopkins. Gerard was a wholesale grocer with a home at 8 Pratt Street and a store on the County Wharf at the foot of Broadway in Fell’s Point. Samuel Hopkins was later remembered as “an upright, noble-minded man, polite, agreeable and entertaining in conversation, much beloved by his friends and acquaintances, useful in society, his neighborhood and family.”

Source: Bulletin of the Johns Hopkins Hospital. 1917. Johns Hopkins and Some of His Contemporaries, Henry M. Hurd, M.D. p. 225-226.

Trustees of the Baltimore City and County Almshouse ask overseer to “be more circumspect in his purchase of provision for the poor”

On February 5, 1814, the trustees of the Baltimore City and County Almshouse wrote to overseer John Morton, calling on him:

“to be more circumspect in his purchase of provision for the poor taking care not to have so large a proportion of bone in their meat, to have their bread attended to and well baked (particularly the indian) and to have vegetables mixed with their soup.”

While modest in some ways, the diet at the Baltimore City and County Almhouse offered greater variety and nutrition than many working people in Baltimore ate at home. Dinner included soup with an eight-ounce share of beef on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. Sunday inmates ate salt pork and vegetables, Tuesdays they ate mush and molasses and on Friday they ate herring with hominy or rice. Each inmate received a pound of bread daily along with a molasses-sweetened beverage of coffee and rye served for breakfast. 

During warmer months than January, the almhouse menu was supplemented by  produce from the almshouse farm. An 1825 harvest included cabbage, tomatoes, turnips, carrots, string beans, and onions. That same year, the almshouse cows gave 4,000 gallons of milk and cream enough for 1,735 pounds of butter.

Source: Scraping By: Wage Labor, Slavery, and Survival in Early Baltimore (2006), Seth Rockman, p.204.

Herman and Mary Cope “lament the loss of a fine daughter in the moment of her birth”

On January 31, 1814, Herman Cope wrote to his uncle in Philadelphia in an optimistic mood. A Quaker merchant living in Baltimore at 76 Sharp Street, Cope had heard the rumors that the war with Britain might end soon, possibly “in time to admit Dry Goods from England for fall sales” and he asked his Uncle’s help in making the necessary introductions to London merchants. Business taken care of Cope turns to a more sober topic concluding:

“I suppose this you have heard that my dear Mary & myself have to lament the loss of a fine daughter in the moment of her birth – the doctors skill was unavailing – ‘The Lord giveth & He taketh away’ – Mary is pretty well – please remember me to aunt Mary Grandmother & Cousins”

Hundreds of families in Baltimore, Herman and Mary Cope among them, dealt with the death of infants and young children in 1814. Reporting in February 1814, the Niles’ Weekly Register shared some figures on Baltimore’s mortality for previous year: 249 children under the age of one died in 1814 and seventy children were stillborn.

Learn more on the history of birth in the 1700s and 1800s with the Wellcome Library’s two-part series on “Birth: a changing scene” — Part I: Images of home birth in the Wellcome Library and Part II: A controversial figure of man-midwife.

Source: Cope, Herman M., 1789-1869. “1814 January 31, Baltimore, to Uncle, Philadelphia :: Cope Evans Family Papers,” January 31, 1814. Cope – Evans family papers, 1732-1911. Haverford College Special Collections.

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, 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.”

On January 15, 1814, Ramsay McHenry was born to Daniel William McHenry and his wife Sophia Hall Ramsay. The child was the first grandson of Fort McHenry namesake James McHenry, a Revolutionary War veteran who served as a personal secretary to General George Washington and as the nation’s first Secretary of War. James McHenry had poor health throughout his life and, in early 1814, experienced a serious paralysis from which he never fully recovered:

“Though he was but little over sixty years of age McHenry’s health which had never been robust was entirely shattered by his attack of paralysis and from the beginning of 1814 he was almost a helpless invalid.”

Ramsay McHenry lived in Harford County up until his death on August 13, 1878. He served several terms in the state legislature, “took a great interest in agriculture and possessed fine herds of imported cattle,” and never married.

Source: Steiner, Bernard Christian. 1907. The Life and Correspondence of James McHenry: Secretary of War Under Washington and Adams. The Burrows Brothers Company.

Advertisement: Lost, Thomas Tenant’s Note

American and Commercial Daily Advertiser, January 15, 1814

Joseph Sterett (1773-1821) was a wealthy land-owner, merchant and planter who commanded the Fifth Regiment of Maryland militia at the Battle of Bladensburg and Battle of North Point. Thomas Tenant (1769–1836 was a Federalist, a Baltimore merchant, shipowner, wharf owner, and prize agent who served as a major in the Sixth Regiment of the Maryland militia.

How did Sterett lose a $2500 check from Tenant? Share your theories in the comments!

“Jan 1st. A remarkably fine day with clear Frost, but not violent – went to Town & din’d at Mr. Wirgmans. A British Schooner has arriv’d at Annapolis bear a Flag of Truce, believ’d relating to Prisoners & brings acct of the complete defeat of Buonaparte by the Allied Army –Walked to Mr. Peters this evg. and Beckey return’d with me.”

From the journal of Captain Henry Thompson, January 1, 1814. Courtesy the Friends of Clifton.