Finding Margaret within the new Longwood Public Garden

Ever since the announcement came out on Tuesday that a Public Garden was being created at the property called Longwood where Dr. Gustavus Warfield and his family once resided, a flurry of social media discussion has happened about it and contact to our nonprofit. A financial supporter of our nonprofit is a descendant of his. A focus group will be giving a report to the County Executive regarding what the property could potentially do for the county, and it may also be meeting in order discuss and hear from the public about it. That’s what’s hoped. There’s a real opportunity with this to do more than just admire and be amongst plants and flowers that we can see and whatever buildings that have survived. It’s known that 400k is in the proposed county budget for the garden, though the purchase price for the nearly 100 acres wasn’t disclosed. The county specifically wanted it to be known that it had been “preserved from development of more than 20 units” which implies what it does. It isn’t shown who is behind the Guilford Gazzette, but more local media is needed so their coverage of the announcement is uplifted in which they give the names of the people appointed to the Focus Group. History isn’t represented, but the group of 14 was formed in March when maybe the focus truly was just on plants and nature. That should evolve.                 

Longwood is in the West Friendship part of the county. At the moment, it is owned by Walnut Springs Nursery, Inc. until the sale or transfer. Many have known about the structures on the grounds for a while, largely thanks to the MHT inventory form about it created by a State Highway Administration consultant in 2013. There was an attempt to locate anything regarding the 1800s ways and practice of medicine at the site, and the medical office that was on site was noted to have been extensively altered which made it not eligible for the Register under criteria A. There are many parts of the chain of title that alert folks to the fact that it isn’t complete. “This is possibly, but not definitely, the property that became Longwood.” and “Unclear how many acres the property contains.” are dead giveaways. By now, many know that the accurate title work done under the auspices of our nonprofit on the log house in Ellicott City revealed that the ownership narrative had been incorrect for 40 plus years. Longwood’s history and who owned exactly what and where would have to first be done. Accurately. That’s for a very good reason…

Celia Holland wrote about Longwood in her 1987 book, and her archive with research notes is housed at Univ of MD College Park Library Special Collections where it has been used by history researchers for years. She was called the “unofficial county historian” for years, and her work was heavily consulted by many when the inventory forms were created. The owner of Longwood from the 1800s was Dr. Gustavus Warfield, whose father was Dr. Charles A. Warfield of Bushy Park. There is also a cemetery there. The local Howard County Genealogical Society, Inc. inventoried the cemetery on Longwood in 1975. Most of the headstones visible there at that time were catalogued to belong to Gustavus’ family. And then there is Peggy. First and foremost, her legal name was Margaret Fosset. When the announcement was made about the Public Garden, immediate speculation occurred about it being a place where slave burials exist just as what happened with the recent local St. Mary’s Cemetery story in the news. Many people are looking for the answer to where their ancestors who died while enslaved were buried here in Howard County, without realizing that the answer isn’t definitively known (yet). And that shouldn’t be rushed. Longwood will help us, if it’s done deliberately and accurately. Peggy/Margaret can help us, just like Levi and his wife Eliza Jane Gillis do in Ellicott City.

Everyone goes to those inventory forms for history, and they just aren’t always entirely accurate as was shown with Levi and Eliza Jane’s log home. The Longwood form contains info about the cemetery and the sixteen markers. Yes, the family member’s markers are there as is one for “Peggy Fosset” who the author wrote “..was likely a slave”:


Elsewhere within the document, this is found that there is an “old burial ground for slaves” and a headstone with the inscription here: