Arnold, Maryland: Our Hometown
Our mission: The students of Magothy River Middle School were curious about the history of Arnold, Maryland. Since not much has been written about this place, we decided to research our local history ourselves. We are giving special focus to the years 1850-1880, and to the life of an important resident, Thomas H. Arnold. We hope that you will enjoy learning about this very special place.
|A Town or Just a Zip Code?||Arnold Elementary School History 1952 - 53|
|The Life and Times of Thomas Hamilton Arnold||The Historic Buildings of Arnold|
|The Arnold Family Tree||The 1850 Census of Anne Arundel County, Maryland|
|African-American Slaves in Anne Arundel County||Occupations in Anne Arundel County|
|The Will of John Arnold - 1857||The Will of Thomas H. Arnold|
|Learning About Arnold Through Oral History||A Living, Growing History|
We first decided that it might be helpful to try to establish some boundaries for Arnold. We asked our local postmaster, Mr. Bill Campbell, of the Arnold post office to help us determine the boundaries of Arnold. We are grateful to Mr. Campbell for his help. The post office sent Mr. Gary Cranford, a supervisor at the post office, to speak to our students about this question.
The Arnold Post Office was established in the 1930's, and it started with just one carrier and one clerk. Today, the Arnold Post Office has 17 carriers and 6 clerks. There are about 7,700 daily deliveries now, which represents a great increase in the last ten years due to development, and increases in housing in Arnold. The rapid development started in the 1950's when many of the local communities were built. Before that time, things were very different. For example, Mr. Cranston told us that when he was younger, he planted tobacco on a big tobacco farm where the community of Wexford now stands. He said that at that time, Bay Hills was a huge farm that had horses and tobacco. He also told us that the 1990 census showed Arnold has 21,700 residents.
Mr. Cranston showed us the boundaries of Arnold. Arnold is bordered by Route 50 to the south, Pennington Lane to the east, Jones Station Rd. on the North, and the Severn River on the west.
The Early Inhabitants on the Magothy River
We received a history of the Ulmstead community which told us about the earliest history of our area, and answered some of the questions we had about Native Americans in our area. For instance, we wondered what "Magothy" meant, and where the name had originated. The Ulmstead history tells us that the earliest spelling of the river our school is named after was Magoty; but by 1795 the spelling had become Magothy. The word itself supposedly came from the Algonquin Indian word "magucke" meaning a "wide plain", "without timber", that does not really sound like the Broadneck peninsula area. We wondered if the name came from maggots or mosquitoes. The Ulmstead history suggests that if it did, maybe the earliest English inhabitants added an "h" to it to make it sound better.
This excerpt from the Ulmstead community history was very informative: "According to legend, the area around the present community of Ulmstead was the site of Indian feasts between the tribes of Western Maryland and Gibson Island. Indian artifacts from the late Archaic period (5000-1500 BC) were discovered near Ulmstead Point. Later the area was occupied by the Algonquin tribes who left their arrow heads. When Captain John Smith of Jamestown arrived in this area in 1608, his records show that he found no Indians. Early in this century, Mr. Franklin B. Spriggs uncovered many arrow heads when he plowed up a mound on his bottom land near the present day community of Bayberry". We found from other sources that Mr. Spriggs was a postmaster of our Arnold post office. We thank the residents of the Ulmstead community for their help with this project.
Tombstones As Textbooks
The history was very informative. It explained much of the lore that you will read about in our history. We especially liked the section called "Strange Discoveries" which told us of the existence of an Indian burial ground at Joyce Lane, and some of the legends about the grave of John Arnold. We also got a feel from reading this document about what life was like in Arnold in the 1950's. It covers topics like geography, people at work, religion, recreational, and civic groups. This history is available at the Maryland State Archives. It is part of a series of histories done by elementary schools called "Discovering Our School Community" in 1952-53.
Our preliminary research quickly pointed to Thomas Arnold as playing a huge role in the development of this town.
We first got to know Thomas Arnold through his newspaper obituaries. In that time, obituaries were written in a very detailed, colorful style. The newspaper account not only told the cause of death and the names of the relatives left behind, but also described the highlights of his life and evaluated his character as well. We received an obituary from Mrs. Carol Larson, a descendent of Mr. Arnold. She showed us the original one that had been cut out from some newspaper. We became very intrigued about the life of this man because of what the obituary said.
"Mr. Arnold has had the respect of men throughout his life and for a half century has been prominent in the affairs of his county. A man of fine judgment, his advice was often sought. He was never a candidate for office, but in the famous fight of 1875 he was forced upon the ticket of that year for county commissioner and with the ticket of that year was declared elected, but after a contest in the courts the ticket was ousted." Later in the obituary we read about his role in a very famous trial. " Mr. Arnold is the last survivor of the noted Wharton jury. It was he who stood firm for the acquittal of the prisoner, and after a prolonged lockup, the other eleven joined him in the verdict." We were very curious about this trial, and wanted to know more about it. We were unable to determine which newspaper this particular obituary was from, so we decided to look up the Capital and the Baltimore Sun to see if it had come from either of those newspapers.
When we went to the Maryland State Archives to look up Mr. Arnold's obituary, we were surprised to find that a different obituary was on the front page of the Evening Capital newspaper on Friday, September 6, 1901. The obituary stated that "No man held the respect of a larger number of residents in this county than Thomas H. Arnold."
Also on that front page was a notice that President McKinley was shot and died within an hour after the shooting. It was very sad to read the accounts of how a stranger had shot the President and had escaped. The President and his party had just returned to the Exposition in Buffalo, N.Y. It was interesting to hear what national events were happening at this time.
Thomas H. Arnold was described also as "an interesting figure in Anne Arundel county for the past half a century" The obituary also stated that: "The deceased was a man of fine qualities and estimable character, and was highly esteemed by all who knew him."
We became anxious to learn more about this man just by reading his various obituaries. The Capital said that "he was a member of the famous Van Ness-Wharton jury." And that "he held no public office except that of county commissioner".
The Baltimore Sun also published an obituary for Mr. Arnold. It states that he "was one of the most prominent men of that section of the county". We read that "he was a farmer, but of late years conducted a retail merchandise business", and that "in 1870, he was a member of the jury which tried the Wharton-Van Ness case". Along with the obituary was a death notice which stated that the funeral would be "this Saturday afternoon". Relatives and friends of the family invited. Train leaves Camden Station at 1:10 P.M." It sounds as though people were expected to make the trip from Baltimore to pay their respects to Thomas Arnold.
When we started to research his life, we found that, indeed, Thomas Arnold played a big role in the early history of Arnold. First, he donated land for the Asbury M.E. Church. Next, he started a store which gave the town its name. Around the time of 1866, the town was called Arnold's Store. It is noted that way on the historic Hopkins map of 1878. We thought a good next step would be to investigate the buildings around Arnold, to see if we could glean where Arnold's store was, and where Thomas Arnold lived.
We found the death certificate of Thomas Arnold at the Maryland State Archives. This document is very informative, because it helped us tell who his parents were (so that we could keep working on the family tree). We found out that, unfortunately, death certificates were not kept by the state until 1898, so it would not be helpful in tracing the earlier members of the family. We found out that the cause of death was "facial erysipelas". We researched that and it appears that this disease is a kind of staph infection. Many things like this were big problems before they had antibiotics.
Our students used the Hopkins map of 1878 to try to determine where the store was. We thought it might be an older building across from Chesapeake Academy on Old County Road in Arnold. Ms. Ware and Ms. Marsh helped us by doing title searches on properties which we felt were originally owned by members of the Arnold family. Ms. Ware told us that the building we thought was Arnold's store was known by early residents as "Revell's Store" and here is what she found out about it.
Thomas Arnold owned 684 mostly contiguous acres in and around the vicinity of the town that bears his family's name. The largest parcel of land was given to him by his father, John Arnold in 1856, "out of the natural love and affection, and desire to see him advance in life."This was land that John previously inherited from his father. The remainder of Thomas' holdings were acquired by private purchase. According to the Anne Arundel County Commissioner's Assessment (1876-1896), by 1887 he had acquired much more land.
The following diagram is a family tree that we have established using information from Mrs. Larson, and from research at the Maryland State Archives.
Mrs. Wharton was acquitted of the murder of General Ketchum. As for the alleged murder of Mr. Van Ness, "the jury after another long trial failed to agree and were discharged." From reading day-by-day accounts in the newspapers of the day, it seems as if the medical experts could not agree about the poison used, or even that the near death resulted from poisoning. There appears to have been some reasonable doubt in the minds of the jurors.
Reading the accounts of this trial in the newspapers of 1872-73 is like following a soap opera. Mrs. Wharton is described in detail. When she was brought to the courthouse, her daughter and friends accompanied her. They decorated her room in the courthouse and made it pleasant for her. Her meals were brought in to her from a local hotel in Annapolis. We enjoyed learning about the times from reading these newspaper articles.
We spent hours looking at microfilm of the newspapers, and sometimes, by accident, would find an interesting story which involved the Arnolds. One example is the following entry in the paper from 1/21/1873.
There were 678 children of school age, 6-18, in the Third District. Only 73 or 10. 77% of these children attended school during the previous year. The following table reports the school attendance for each racial designation.
|Children of the Third District Who Attended School - June 1849-June 1850|
There were 11,247 slaves in Anne Arundel County in 1850 compared to 21, 077 free people. be. In the third district, where Arnold is located, the statistics are as follows:
There were 677 Males, 362 Females, for a total of 1,039 slaves. This comprised 42% of the population of the Third District. The county average was about nine slaves per owner.
Schedule 2 of the census does not list the names of the slaves. Only each slave's age, sex, and color was recorded under the name of the owner. If the slave had run away, space was provided to record the number of years he had been gone. A column is also included for recording how many slaves of each description had been "manumitted" or freed.
Scarlet fever, Accidents, pleurisy, dysentery, congestion, Bilious,
old age, influenza, teething, purpural fever, whooping cough, "child bed".
Pleurisy: Inflammation of the thin membrane covering the lungs and lining the thorax.
Purpural fever: Disease characterized by purple spots on the skin or mucus membrane.
Bilious: Trouble with the bile or liver
In the Name of God, Amen!
I, John Arnold, of Anne Arundel County in the State of Maryland, being of sound and disposing mind, memory, and understanding, considering the certainty of death and the uncertainty of the time thereof, and being desirous to settle my worldly affairs and thereby be the better prepared to leave this world when it shall please God to call me hence, do therefore make and publish this my last will and Testament in manner and form following that is to say: First and principally I commit my soul into the hands of God and my body to the earth to be decently buried, and after my debts and funeral charges are paid I devise and bequeath as follows
Item -I give and bequeath unto my second son Thomas Hamilton Arnold all that tract or parcel of land lying and situated on the North Side of the Severn River in Anne Arundel County Maryland and known as "Hammonds Security" containing about 300 acres more or less and meeted and bounded as may be seen by reference to deed from Julianna Hammond to John Arnold, to him my said son, his heirs and assigns forever.
Item -I give and bequeath unto my wife Rebecca Ann Arnold the residue of my estate, real personal and mixed to be hers during her natural life , and I do hereby declare that the bequests herein after _____shall not take effect until the decease of her my said wife or in any way interfere with the full enjoyment by her of this bequest.
Item -After the decease of my wife Rebecca Ann Arnold, I will desire that all my real estate situated on the North Side of Severn River in Anne Arundel County Md, be equally divided by sworn commissioners between my three children John Richard Arnold, Medora Wills Arnold, and Victoria Arnold share and share alike to be theirs their heirs or assigns forever respectively.
Item -Whatever personal property may be left at the time of my wife's deceased including also my house and lot in the city of Annapolis I give and bequeath unto my four children Thomas Hamilton Arnold, John Richard Arnold, Medora Wills Arnold, and Victoria Arnold to be divided between them share and share alike.
Item- I give and bequeath unto my oldest son Elijah Redmond Arnold the sum of fifty dollars, and unto each of my grandchildren ________unto my said son Elijah Redmond Arnold I bequeath one hundred dollars to be paid to them by my named when they shall respectively arrive at the age of twenty one years.
and lastly I do hereby constitute and appoint my second son Thomas Hamilton Arnold Executor of this my last will and Testament, enjoining and making it a condition upon which depends all the aforegoing bequests in his favour that he my said Son shall take charge of the family after my decease, and manage for his mother, & help her to take care of the minor children so long as she shall live and I do hereby revoke and annul all wills by me heretofore made and do publish and declare this to be my last will and Testament.
In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal this the twenty seventh day of October in the year of our Lord one thousand Eight hundred and fifty five.
Signed sealed published and declared by John Arnold the above named Testator as and for his last will and Testament in the presence of us, who at his request in his presence and in the presence of each other have subscribed our names as witnesses thereto.....Seals
1st I direct that all my debts, funeral expenses, taxes, and all legal charges against my estate shall be paid.
2nd I will and bequeath to my grandson Martin Steel my store and one-half acre of land around it. Also I direct the goods in the Store to be sold and five hundred dollars ($500.) of the money realized from the said sale be given to the afore said Martin Steel.
3rd All the rest and residue of my estate real personal and mixed I will and bequeath to my wife Eliza P. Arnold during her single life and at her death to be divided among my children share and share alike except my son Alton R. Arnold and my grandson Martin Steel who have been provided for.
4th I hereby name and appoint my son Alton R. Arnold executor of this will.
Witness my hand and seal this thirty-first day of August nineteen hundred and
Dr. J.D. Ridout
We also wanted to know about Arnold in the 1930's and 1940's. We are very grateful to Mr. Bill Schriefer, who came to our school to talk about what Arnold was like when he was growing up. Mr. Schriefer grew up in a house which originally belonged to John Arnold, and which is the site of the grave of John Arnold. There are many stories about why John Arnold is not buried with the rest of his family in the Asbury cemetery, but we will never really know. As the stories go, it is said that John Arnold requested to be buried right near his house so he could always keep an eye on his young widow Rebecca. Other stories say that he was buried with his money, and if you kept quiet while digging for it, you would be able to get it, but if you spoke, it would sink deeper into the earth. We do not believe these legends since we found the will of John Arnold, and realize that he left his money to his family.
Mr. Schriefer told us what life was like here when he was a boy. The Arnold schoolhouse then had four rooms and were filled with kerosene lamps lighting the rooms. Electricity did not come to Arnold until 1934.
After school was done for the day, everyone would go and swim in the Magothy River. It wasn't at all polluted then. Then, they would walk home along the roads made of gravel and oyster shells. The train was the most popular form of transportation other than walking. The wealthy would have horse-drawn carriages, or would invest in the new Model A Ford. Ritchie Highway was built in 1939.
Most of the children lived on farms, and either raised animals or food. Arnold was a very rural farming region until World War II. Mr. Schriefer told us that the ice man would come around and sell 50 lb. blocks of ice for 25 cents. A quart of milk was 10 cents. Water for drinking and bathing was pumped from wells. It would have been fun to live in Arnold 60 years ago!
Here are excerpts from the oral history that we did which tells us about life in Arnold when Mr. Schriefer was a boy....
".....The roads them days were all gravel or oyster shell based, usually full of pot holes, and when a car or wagon went down the road, dust flew all over the place.and the ones living on the west side of the road didn't have too much trouble. But those living on the east side of the road ,the wind always blows mostly from the west and of course those days we didn't have washers and dryers and they hung the clothes out on lines to dry them so they have to build the line way back off the road in case a car come along to keep the clothes from getting dirty all over again......."
"We didn't get electricity in there until 1934. Previous to that we had oil lamps, wood stoves, wood and coal. Every house had a kitchen range. Ah, you went home from school, you always had chores to do, o.k.? You carried out the ashes, you carried the kindling and the wood in, you had to pump your own water, and if you lived on a farm, there were animals to take care of, and you always done that first. You'd better do it. And without electricity, of course, you couldn't have a Frigidaire. So a lot of people had what you'd call ice boxes. An the ice man would come around twice a week and sell you a piece of ice. Well, the economy was very bad around here then. There wasn't any money, and a lot of people didn't have jobs, and they couldn't afford ice, and they couldn't afford ice boxes. So they would go and if they lived near sea level, close to the water, there always springs running near the water, and they'd build themselves a spring house. and they'd leave their perishables, milk, eggs, butter, and things like that, in there between meals. And up where I lived, I was considered lucky. We had an ice box and an ice man. The wells were all around 100 feet deep, and they were ugly holes in the ground.they were dug about 6-8 foot in diameter. They were built by hand. A man went down there with pick and shovel. An d dug 'em, and these people would put their perishables in a bucket and lower them down the well. and keep their perishables from spoiling that way. Now, a well, to accommodate a couple of horses and a couple of cows, and all the farm chickens (they took a lot of water), I guess the language you people can understand today, a cow can put a hurting on a bathtub of water! An d they drink a LOT of water, and it all had to be pumped. We had a way of pumping, and I'll give you that in a second. The well, if they had a slow stream, the well digger would go down there and dig what we call a curve, a big reservoir under the ground, and don't ask me what one looks like, cause I never had the nerve to go down there and look at it. I took their word for it! Years ago they used to have what they call an old make and break engine, some of 'em would call 'em a "one lunger", a big heavy cast iron one-cylinder engine. And you could hook it to your pump and start it, and it would pump water. Most of them had tanks that they'd fill up, and then after you'd finish watering your animals, or your laundry and all the water you'd need...they would just take a pin out and put a pump handle on, and if you wanted a bucket of water for the house, you just went out and pumped a bucket."
"When I first started school at Arnold, they had a coal stove in each room. And all the bigger boys, especially those who, ah, got in a little trouble along the line, they had to tend the fires. And that second or third year, they put a regular heating system throughout the whole building. It took about two years to get the kinks out of it. We were colder then then we were with the regular heating system. All of us then, at a very young age, learned how to tend stoves. We could all built fires, and you had to be very careful. The closest fire department at that time was up at Earleigh Heights. That was before Ritchie Highway was built. And it set back on Truckhouse Road, and they would have to come all the way down Truckhouse Road to Goske's Store, on the old Annapolis Road, and to get down in this area here. Arnold Fore Department wasn't built until about 1943. And so people were very careful. You didn't have tile floors then there were all wood floors with varnish on them, and you had to be careful that you didn't knock the lamps over."
"On the corner of Church Road and Jones Station Road, was Heneke's Store. It was an old farm store. And it didn't have all the fancy things in it that you see in stores today. You might have five or six barrels, and you might have like pickles in one, maybe sauerkraut in another, apples and codfish in season. Whatever was in season. Sauerkraut you bought loose. Potatoes would be in baskets, tomatoes, and things like that. You didn't buy too much by the pound then. It was by the peck or basket, or things like that. Most of the natives here didn't buy much of that stuff out of the store. They raised their own, but in the summertime, down at Shore Acres, and along here, there were a lot of summer homes. People would come down in the summer. They're the ones that would buy from stores like this, We bought some things, like sugar, bread, and once in a while you'd run out of a canned good, and things like that, and we bought our gasoline most of the time there and kerosene. Most stores had a kerosene pump and an ice house where you could buy a piece of ice. And the gasoline pump, to give you an idea of what it looked like then, it was a big tank, and it had a big glass bowl up in the top, and if you wanted five gallons of gasoline, you would pull up there, and they would pump five gallons up into this tank, and it was all marked off by the gallon, and you could see it, and then it would gravity feed it into your car or container. And before electricity came along they had a hand pump on there, they would pump it up. And the people used to get out and watch that mark to make sure they would get their full gallon or five, or whatever they were buying. Gasoline was real cheap those days. You could buy six gallons for a dollar. Or 18 cents a gallon, something like that. Buck Heneke's Store was like a family affair. And the younger ones would go out in the field (he farmed as well) and bring in the cantaloupes or melons, whatever was in season at the time. He also had farm animals."
" When I started Arnold school in 1931, they had electricity in there then. At that time there was one house between the Methodist Church and the Senior Center down there at that time. And most of the other area was all woods coming down. There was a family of Grays that lived there where Hollyanna Acres is now, and they had two oxen that they used to work the farm with. And, uh, they were slow animals, but they were powerful. And they were like your big bulldozers today. They could really work! And you didn't drive them like you did your horses or team. You walked along side them, and the man had a little twig. You touched them one way or the other, whichever way you wanted them to turn."
"People worked on farms in those days, for anywhere between a dollar and a half to two dollars a day. And their dinner. And they worked from seven in the morning to six at night, and you worked! And of course the farm madam, she would always have a great big dinner, cause you could eat then! Soup to start with ,and maybe chicken and things like that. In those days, you only got fried chicken once a year. Chickens came out in May, and by July they were big enough to be called "fryers". And that was a real treat! Everybody loved fried chicken. They didn't grow chickens all year then. Then they'd go from that to a "pullet" stage...and they would start laying then. And the pullet eggs were small, so all the big eggs went to market and all the little eggs we ate ourselves."
We are so grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Schreifer for telling us about what this place called Arnold was like when they were young!
Magothy River Middle School, 241 Peninsula Farm Road, Arnold, MD 21012. (410) 544-0926
We have tried to begin the task of learning about Arnold through archival, genealogical and oral history research in this 1996-97 school year. Our hope is that this history project will continue to grow and develop as people in our community read it and contribute to it. We look forward to hearing from and working with you.