Newly-Discovered Ellicott City Black History

The event we had last night on February 10, 2022 to publicly launch the research findings of our Ellicott City Black History RoundtableEllicott City Black History Roundtable on the accurate history and age of the “Thomas Isaac” log cabin and its intersection with the historic African American church (St. Luke’s A.M.E.) was a success! We had 77 virtual attendees, and 56 in-person attendees. Much was disclosed in two short hours. We originally formed in order to answer questions regarding the login cabin once called “Merryman Cabin” and the likely age of its construction. Along the way, we discovered some surprises that shocked just about everyone who attended!

Some of the highlights were:

  • We found documentation of self-employed African Americans who worked in Ellicott’s Mills in the early 1840s. One was a Black male who purchased his freedom from Andrew Ellicott, Jr. for $200 in the early 1840s.
  • We found documentation of African Americans who owned land in Ellicott’s Mills in the 1830s and beyond. One of them, a self-employed Black man who had been born Free,  bought property in 1831. Another bought property there in 1834. One worked for a manufacturing company for 40 years, and was given company stock upon the death of the company president.
  • A Mulatto male and his family owned the property where the log cabin was located (bought in 1851), and likely built it for his family. His name was Levi Gillis. They lived there for nearly a decade, and sold it to Thomas Isaac in 1860. Thomas Isaac never resided on the property, and we found no evidence that it existed in the 1700s. It is historically significant to the African American community.
  • The Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning named the cabin for Thomas Isaac.
  • St. Luke A.M.E. church (as it is now called), a historical Black church is THE oldest church in Ellicott City. It is still operational, and should be recognized for its significance with its accurate history. There is possibly an earlier structure associated with their history, and DPZ files started by Alice Murdoh (HO-766) should be located by the county government and analyzed by researchers so that it can be completed. There is little to no African American representation in the county Historical Inventory, particularly for Ellicott City. That doesn’t have to continue to be so, as there is now research.

Our full report is 181 pages, complete with supporting images to show what our Truth Lab team examined when making our conclusions. We are having that publication protected by copyright. It will be released in 2 weeks or less. Our nonprofit has submitted an Intent To Apply document to seek grant funding to do community activities around the uncovered history in our report. We are aware that our findings on the cabin materially diverge from those found in the Public Spaces Commission’s report. County personnel declined to participate with our Roundtable, but did opt to contribute in the Commission’s writeup on the cabin. The community should decide what should happen to the name of the cabin. We are unaware of the existence of any deliberative process for naming or changing names on county buildings that involves the community. It might be time to create one.

Chains of Title that we created can be accessed here, and we already made contact with Maryland Historical Trust about having  HO-64 for the lab cabin updated with accurate information. One document is for the original 1860 church property that served as their church home until it was sold to an African American woman named Mary Ridout.

Deeds12.5 perches.pdf

This is the Chain of Title for the land involving Levi Gillis. It stops with Thomas Isaac. This is where the cabin was located. Neither Isaiah Mercer Sr nor Jr  ever owned this land.

Deeds cabin property p1.pdf

This is the Chain of Title for the Isaac descendants up to the Staton and Cross families, both African American. Fanny Stanton donated the cabin to Historic Ellicott City, Inc., who turned it over to the county.

Deeds cabin property pt2.pdf

A visual overlay our researcher created to help us keep everyone straight about who owned what, is here and we intend to ask the county to corroborate:

A 27 page intro with our conclusions and information regarding the original 1860 church trustees can be found by clicking this link:

Early Ellicott City Black history

This property, and the Merryman area, are subjects of inquiry for us because of the lynching of Nicholas Snowden that happened nearby. In addition, the Jacob Henson, Jr. family was associated with St. Luke’s A.M.E. And finally, additional lynching activity was found to be likely associated with the cabin, which you can read in the 27 page document.

If anyone is interested in helping us do this research (there’s lots of it) reach out to me. Our organization is a nonprofit organization, just like Howard County Historical Society, Inc. is.

“This is the work” (as one of our Board members often says.) Stay tuned for more! This is the beginning of our reconciliation work involving this history. We are happy that it has already reached one other descendant who is featured in our full report.

Marlena Jareaux, President

Slavery and Freedom at the Glenwood MD Area Plantation of Dr. Evan W. Warfield


Dr. Warfield was a medical doctor, and on the 1860 census he was reported to have $10,000 worth of real estate and $3500 of personal property. Those humans he was enslaving were part of that “property”. He reported to the tax authority to be enslaving 10, but by the war’s end he would put his name on a list where he reported to have been enslaving 16 by 1864. Among them were Caroline Parker, 36, listed along with six children who Warfield reported to have had the last name “Parker”. for this and all remaining censuses unless noted otherwise

Dr. Evan W. Warfield was reportedly a grandson of Charles A.Warfield, of Peggy Stewart affair fame. From at least as far back as the Declaration of Independence, the Warfields relied upon the enslavement of others in order to be able to prosper as they did. Many know the Warfield name. Many historians haven’t looked closely at people like Caroline, perhaps because Power, Possessions and Social Standing are what we are taught to idolize and are encouraged to emulate in this country. I wonder if there aren’t more people who would like to know about Caroline and her husband. 

Evan was a medical doctor in his mid 30s with a wife in her 30s and 4 young children. The 1860 census taker saw or was told that the children in Evan’s household were Gustavus (10), Louisa (7), Mary (5), and the boy named after his father, Evan (1). Caroline’s children (reported in Warfield’s list) and their approximate 1860 ages were: Fanny (8), Dennis (6), Rachel (4), John Wesley (2), and Maria who was just born. Two years later, Caroline would give birth to a boy who was also likely named after his father: Joseph Parker. Caroline’s husband was very likely the free man (36, Mulatto) who was recorded to also be living on the plantation as a laborer. That dynamic wasn’t an uncommon one. 

The reader is encouraged to imagine what that would have been like for Joseph Parker on that plantation. Details like how Joseph met Caroline can only be imagined, but some things are known. Joseph wasn’t recorded in the 1850 household for Evan, who was 25 and living with his father Dr. Gustavus Warfield.

In 1850, Joseph was recorded as being a 26 year old carpenter who was living in James Parker’s household (likely his older sibling who was noted by the census taker to be able to read or write)…who was also free and a carpenter. James and his wife Mary got certificates of freedom in 1859 for themselves and their son, also named Joseph. The circumstances of THEIR freedom was that James had been born free, while his wife Mary and son Joseph had been set free by a William R. Warfield in 1846. Read that again, because that is the reality (and hope) that Joseph would have been operating from while he worked as a free man on the plantation where his wife and children were being enslaved. 

Maryland State Archives C47-1

In 1860, James Parker and his wife Mary were recorded as living in the household of Dennis and Eliza Parker. They were likely his parents. Information could not be found for how far back Dennis goes in Maryland history. Information was located for Eliza Parker. In 1832, she requested and received a certificate of freedom. She was listed to be 30 years old, 5ft 2 in, yellow complexion with long black hair, and born free. She and Dennis were recorded as being Mulatto in 1860, and Dennis with real estate in District 4.

An 1854 deed was located involving the purchase of land by Eliza, Joseph, Margaret and John Parker from Allen Bowie Davis and his 2nd wife Hester of Montgomery County. It is believed that Joseph, Margaret and John were Dennis and Eliza’s adult children.

Fast-forward to the Civil War. The newspaper reported on May 24, 1864 that James Parker got drafted for the war. So did Evan W. Warfield. James was older than 45 by then (too old to serve), but the younger James was possibly eligible. It appears that Joseph fought in the war in the US Colored Troops. He’d have certainly had motivation to want to put an end to the enslavement of his wife and children. Unfortunately in July of 1871, Caroline submitted a claim for the $300 bounty as his widow. 

By 1870, Caroline Parker was recorded as living with her sons John Wesley, Joseph and James in the Henry Mathews household in District 4. Fanny (then 17) was living in D4 in Aaron Chadwick’s household as a servant. Dennis (then 15)  was recorded as working for Evan Warfield. Charles Parker (19) was also there, likely the same one that had been recorded as free and 8 years old in Dennis Parker’s 1860 household. Rachel (then 13) was recorded in the household of George and Matilda Snowden. (Matilda had also been enslaved by Dr. Warfield). Maria Parker couldn’t be found in the 1870-1880 Howard census. Dennis Parker was recorded to be 79, but Eliza was no longer in the household (likely deceased). John Wesley Parker, son of Dennis and Eliza, was recorded to be nearby, with his wife Mary and children.

A little about Caroline, or a lot (depending upon how you view it)…she bought land in 1872. The purchase price was the same amount as the $300 pension claim. In the corner of the deed, it was noted that it had been delivered to “Wm. H. Mathews”. She did it again in 1873, purchasing from Alan Bowie Davis and his wife. You wouldn’t know that by looking at the 1880 census where Caroline is listed to be in the William H. Mathews household simply as “sister” (likely, William’s, who in 1870 was referred to as just “Henry” by the census taker). He had also been enslaved by Evan Warfield.

Henry would become well-known in the county as being one of the Trustees named on the 1867 Mount Gregory purchase deed (the building formerly known as the defunct Warfield Academy). The Trustees aimed to make a large school there, which got reported to the Freedman’s Bureau. James Parker was also a Trustee, along with George Snowden who was Matilda’s husband. George (45, Black) had been working as a free man in 1860 at Alex Warfield’s property also awaiting freedom for his wife and children (Lloyd, Caroline and Lorenzo).  He had been drafted also in 1864, but was likely too old to serve.

Caroline was recorded on the 1900 census, a 72 year old widow, along with several of her grandchildren and a boarder from Kentucky. She was listed to be the owner (“O”) of her home, free of any mortgage. “F” designated free, while “M” was mortgaged.

In 1903, a deed was executed between her descendants for the transfer of her land holdings. It involved the 2 pieces of land she had acquired. The party names make it quite possible that they were her children, who had been once listed as being enslaved. 

Fannie White, widow (12 years old as of 1864)

Dannis Parker, of Chester, PA (10 years old as of 1864)

Rachel Barrett, wife to Joseph Barrett (8 years old as of 1864)

John W. Parker, married to Mary (6 years old as of 1864)

Maria Tillman, wife to Ezekiel Tillman (4 years old as of 1864)

They transferred the properties to Joseph A. Parker and his wife Addie L. Parker. It referenced two parcels, one with 8 acres of land and the other with 11.5 acres.

Maryland put a new state Constitution into place, effective November 1, 1864. Article 24 of the Constitution of 1864 stated: “That hereafter, in this State, there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except in punishment of crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted; and all persons held to service or labor as slaves, are hereby declared free.” When that Constitution went into effect and slavery got abolished, Caroline and her children’s names saw the light of day for the first time which enabled me to find and see them. By 1867, Evan and others wishing to be financially compensated for their perceived losses due to the November 1st emancipation of Caroline and others, placed their names on the list you saw above. 


Dr. Evan W. Warfield, died in 1904. In 1850 at the age of 25, he reported to be enslaving his first human… a 10 year old female child. His father had many, of various ages up to 80 years old.

Marlena Jareaux

Cooksville, Howard County, MD: a US Colored Troops Story

Today in Howard County, MD history: the story of what was happening on one Cooksville plantation on or near ”Shipley’s Adventure”. The year was 1861 and the Civil War had started. According to a publication of the Howard County Genealogical Society*, Union recruiting for the local military unit called the Patapsco Guards began in mid-September in Ellicott Mills. Mr. Nathan Shipley reported to authorities to have been enslaving 10 souls in 1860, with the ages you can see on this image.


This is what Nathan Sr’s 1860 household was comprised of, according to the census taker (the older children had households of their own):

On October 14, 1861, Nathan Sr. placed “Elijah” and “Dennis” into the Howard County jail “for safekeeping”, possibly telling authorities that he suspected they were trying to run away from his plantation. Nathan’s birthday would be 2 days later on the 16th (if the info is correct on that. I asked them to add one daughter (Eliza Warfield) which they did today, and others are missing).

Courtesy, Maryland State Archives 20,367-24

Nathan had a wife, Maria, and at least 8 children total. They were: Napoleon, Henry, Oliver, Eliza (married to Azel Warfield), Kitty (married to Elijah Hilton) and Mary (married to Jacob Fredericks). Another son, Joshua, was about 33 years old at this point in 1861. And another son, Nathan Shipley, Jr., was a 30 year old school teacher living in the Lisbon area. Both Joshua and Nathan were listed on the 1862 Civil War Enrollment Ledger for Howard County, in what was the 4th District.

On February 12, 1863, Nathan Shipley, Sr. made out his Last Will and Testament. To his wife Maria, he was leaving almost everything he owned, which included the 133 acre plantation where they lived. In addition, he was leaving her ”Matilda and her two children namely, James and Ruth, all slaves for life, to keep or dispose of them as she may see fitt.”  

Nathan knew, of course, what was happening in the country. He leaves behind a window into his thoughts with the following passage in his will: “And whereas in consequence of the vexed question in regard to slave property, has rendered that class of property to be of little value I hereby fully authorize my Executor and Executrix herein after named to exercise their own judgment in regard to my servant-man named Jeremiah to sell or hire-out said Jeremiah which ever they may find it the most advantage to my estate, and my old servant George I desire he shall go at liberty and receive the reward of his own wages, preferring at the same time he shall be kept in the employment of someone member of my family at reasonable wages..”

First 2 pages of Nathan Shipley Sr will. Courtesy, the Beulah Buckner Collection held by Howard County Department Recreation and Parks. Note: highlighting done by Ms. Buckner

In May of 1864, the Sun published the list of men drafted to fight in the war. James Johnson, “slave of Joshua Shipley”, was among them. In what can only be called irony, in September of 1864, the same newspaper published the name of “Joshua Shipley” in the (then) District 4 list of drafted men. Unless there was another Joshua Shipley in D4, he provided a surgeon’s certificate at registration that was supposed to exempt him from being drafted. 

The name “James Johnson” was very common during the Civil War and in the US Colored Troops. It is uncertain if he fought in the war. Joshua Shipley placed James’ name and age of 37 on the list of the enslaved that he wished to be compensated for due to the abolishment of slavery, without noting any enlistment for him. Jeremiah hadn’t been sold and was in the 39th regiment of the USCT, according to Joshua, who reported having received $100 compensation from the government due to the enlistment while enslaved. His full name was Jeremiah Dorsey, and he reported to be 30 when he mustered in to Company E on March 29, 1864. He would get promoted to Sergeant.

“George” from Nathan Sr’s will may have been the 48 year old male that he reported to have been enslaving to the 1860 authorities. Without a last name, it’s nearly impossible to learn what happened to him. The same can be written for Matilda and her 2 children. Same for “Elijah” and “Dennis” who had been jailed to keep from running away. 

Sgt. Jeremiah Dorsey married Charlotte Dorsey. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t make it back home to her because he died October 29, 1864 in the City of Philadelphia. He got buried the next day at Lebanon Cemetery, an African American cemetery. Nathan Shipley, Sr. died March 3, 1865 at the age of 67. He is reportedly buried at the McKendree Cemetery not far from Bushy Park Elementary School as is his wife Maria, who died in 1884.

Interesting note: Summit House Hospital in Philadelphia, PA was a large hospital. Sgt. Dorsey was admitted there on September 9, 1864 after being transferred from City Point Hospital. This photo is also from his service record:


Someone else local to Howard County was transferred to Summit House Hospital while Jeremiah was there. Pvt. Nicholas Snowden was transferred on September 29 from Satterlee, a month before Jeremiah died. Click the link below to read more about Satterlee, and to see a drawing of it!


In Jeremiah’s widow’s pension request records, we learn that they got married June 4, 1854 by Reverend Waters at Hood’s Mill, Carroll County. They had 4 children, the youngest (a girl named Georgina), was born in 1862:


You have just read some of the life story of Sgt Jeremiah Dorsey, who was 6 foot 2 inches tall, had hazel eyes, and a mulatto complexion. Hopefully, the story will enable you to imagine Jeremiah possibly walking from his enslaver’s place (Cooksville) to that of his wife and children (Sykesville) nearby. Local Howard County Maryland history. Thanks to Wayne Davis, for supplying the Fold3 file on Jeremiah!

For info on Satterlee: click here

*publication noted above is: Patriots and Pioneers of Howard County, Maryland: The Civil War Enrollment and Draft of 1862 in Howard County, by Joseph Nichols, Jr. and Richard W. Bush (2001, reprinted 2004. Published by The Howard County Genealogical Society, Inc.)

I Can’t Forget the 1863 Howard County Christmas

Each Christmas for more than 20 years now, I have been fortunate to celebrate it as a mother. Once my son graduated from Hammond High, he spent time away while at the University of Maryland but returned home for the holidays to celebrate. A recent “Facebook memory” appeared in my account that contained the photo of him when he was about 10 with his HC Parks & Rec trophy for tennis, and my immediate thought was that even now, I still see “my baby” in him. I’m sure I’m not in the minority when I write that there’s very little I won’t do for my son. This Christmas was a little different for me, in more ways than just COVID-19 related. Due to the work our group is doing, I ran across a story that weighed on my mind this Christmas. It’s a story from many Christmases ago in Howard County, and it involves a woman and mother named Caroline. 

Caroline and her husband Joseph were living in district 3 of Howard County in 1860. She was 38 years old, and had 4 kids living at home with her and her husband. Joseph, John, Susan, and Kate were their names. Joseph was the oldest at 11, and Kate was the youngest at 2. They were a free Black family.

United States Census, 1860, courtesy,

Maryland apprenticeship laws from 1819 were still in place that permitted the children of free negroes to be bound out as apprentices by the local Orphan’s Court if anyone reported their suspicion that they believed a negro child was “not at service or learning a trade, or employed in the service of their parents”. If bound out as an apprentice that way, the master or mistress could be required to teach the child to read or write, or give the child money at the end of their indenture period for what was called “freedom dues”. On April 6,1861, Joseph and Caroline struck their own deal with Francis McAvoy for the service of their son Joseph for $100 paid up front to them. They agreed that Joseph would work for Mr. McAvoy until he turned 25.

Document in the custody of Howard County Historical Society, available at

This was before the start of the Civil War (April 12, 1861), but after Abraham Lincoln had been inaugurated President (March 4, 1861). Howard County voters weren’t keen on Lincoln or his ideals, having cast only ONE vote for him in the election. 

I will never know for certain all that Caroline Anderson personally did in response to the Civil War, states seceding from the Union, and the Compensated Emancipation Act that took effect in neighboring DC in 1862 (but not in Maryland). What I do know is that she was sitting in jail Christmas 1863, having been indicted on charges of enticing the apprentices of George Ellicott to run away from him. ELLICOTT… a name that is usually globally associated with the Quaker faith and antislavery. George had been noted to be an enslaver in 1850.

United States Census (Slave Schedule), 1850 courtesy,


He wasn’t the only Ellicott who was an enslaver, since Andrew Ellicott, Jr also indulged in enslavement. Here, he set 43 year old Jacob Madden free, for the price of $200.

Document in the custody of the Howard County Historical Society, available for viewing at

In the years to come, I hope that the work that our group does helps to tear down global assumptions made about people that society of the past has uplifted as well as those that haven’t enjoyed the privilege of being exalted. Society can benefit by having more people who take time to consider and realize the individual stories and circumstances of people (past, present and in the future) before judging them. George very likely knew Francis McAvoy, because it appears that they both attended St. Paul Catholic Church in Ellicott City. McAvoy was baptized there, and a George Ellicott appeared on the registry (likely the father, George II, since his son was only an infant child’s that time).

Was it the father or the son who was associated with the case involving Caroline who was sitting in jail on Christmas? George Sr. had been enslaving two young girls, ages 12 and 15 in 1850, according to the census image above.

60 years old by the 1860 census, George Sr. lived with his family and 12 year old son George, as well as 2 mulatto “servant” children (George Dyson, 10, and Laura Dyson, 12) in district 2 of the county. So, it wasn’t the younger George Ellicott associated with legal proceedings against Caroline. It isn’t known if the 2 servant children were the ones who Caroline allegedly enticed to run away from George.

United States Census, 1860, courtesy,

Caroline got released on what is now referred to as bail in the amount of $100 the day after Christmas. Joshua B. Davis posted the security for her appearance, and the State’s Attorney agreed to her release.

Here is the cover of the VERY old book I found Caroline and others in, down at the Maryland State Archives in Annapolis this past September.

courtesy of the Maryland State Archives, 20,367-28

I don’t know (yet, thanks to COVID-19 closing things again) what happened in her case when she went back to court in March 1864 as the Civil War still continued. I only know that her son John (16) and daughter Susan (18) were listed as living with George Ellicott Jr (then 22 with a wife and son they named George) in Montgomery County in 1870 when the war had been over years ago. I can only imagine why, and I hope it wasn’t a punishment of some sort for Caroline.


I think it’s quite natural to encounter stories like this and ponder about what you’d do if it were you. The reader can probably accurately guess whether this author would have been like Caroline, in jail on Christmas of 1863. I raised my glass this holiday and toasted to finding this part of her story, and to the year ahead working with and in the community to unveil more.

NOTE: Caroline’s children weren’t the only ones to face Orphan’s Court proceedings regarding being bound out to another family. As an example, the Howard County sheriff was told to summon Rachel Ann Bell to the Orphan’s Court in order to testify as to why she shouldn’t be bound out as an apprentice to John Forsyth. The date was November 1, 1864, and Rachel Ann was listed to be the “former slave” of Forsyth’s.

courtesy, Maryland State Archives, Howard County, Register of Wills, Misc Papers, T1302-1 box 35

The sheriff was told to do the same to Edward P. Butler, also listed as a “former slave”. November 1st was the day that Maryland’s new state constitution banning slavery went into effect.

courtesy, Maryland State Archives, Howard County, Register of Wills, Misc Papers, T1302-1 box 35

Rachel was only 16 years old when the Orphan’s Court summoned her to come. Richard was only 7. This is known because of the information Forsyth gave to Howard County’s Commissioner when he placed his name on the list of those wishing to be compensated for the loss of those they had enslaved being freed. (See the image on page 45)

The very old box of papers I was fishing around in last year, that led me to Caroline’s and other stories.

Marlena Jareaux

The Power of Stories

When I moved from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, to Howard County in 2010, my children were in the 3rd and 1st grades. I was excited to find a community that was so diverse that the elementary school had no racial majority. This was a radical departure from the nearly all-white community in which we had lived on Cape Cod. While the middle and high schools my children attended were also highly integrated, I noticed as they advanced through the grades that there was mounting academic and social segregation.

I stepped forward to be a Troop Leader for my daughter’s Girl Scout troop when the girls were rising 9th graders. It was a fantastic group of girls that had been together since elementary school. The racial make-up reflected the diversity of our community: African American, African, Indian, Korean, and white. This was the fall of 2014, which was a time of a growing racial unrest sparked by the killings of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and so many other Black people. We had a lot of conversations about racism that year, and the girls decided to do a group project in which they conducted a survey to understand attitudes about racism. The data they collected pointed to a harsh reality of the world we live in: many respondents who self-identified as white did not acknowledge that racism was an issue. At the beginning of their high school careers, this was shocking to most of the girls, and they wrestled to understand how it could be and what they could do about it. By their senior year, the litany of racist comments and behaviors they had observed or experienced during high school was a long one.

In 2017 The Baltimore Sun published an article about racial segregation in the Howard County Public School System. Although Howard County is among the most integrated in Maryland, enrollment data showed that advanced classes were disproportionately White, while grade-level and remedial classes were disproportionately Black. The article was grounded in data the Sun had collected and analyzed, and it focused on two high school students, Mikey Peterson, who is Black, and Eli Sauerwalt, who is White. Their different experiences at the same high school, and the way those experiences impacted them, highlighted the real harm that the system was perpetuating. I know Mikey, and I felt an intense mix of emotions when I read the story. I was so proud of him for his bravery, and I was so sad that this had happened to him. Nearly four years later, I remember that Sun article – not because of the research and data analyses – but because of the stories.

When I read the Sun article, I understood the inequities to be a legacy of our nation’s white supremacist roots. This is true, and yet… we have our own unique history in Howard County. What are the forgotten stories that help explain the current state of racial disparities in our schools? How much wisdom have we collectively lost because we systematically choose – over and over again – not to honor and value the lives and vibrant communities of Black and Brown people?

Historians wield enormous power. They interpret the meaning of events and circumstances by selecting which facts to include and whose perspective informs the narrative. The culture of white supremacy on which our nation was constructed has shaped the stories we learn about our history. This must change.

Bryan Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative have issued an insistent call to remember our nation’s history of sanctioned violence. More than 4,400 African Americans were lynched between 1877 and 1950. While the sheer magnitude of these atrocities is unfathomable, learning the stories of those whose lives were violently ended connects us to their humanity, and perhaps to our own.

Three men, who experienced lynching or near-lynching in Howard County, lived rich and meaningful lives:

Rev. Hezekiah Brown

Nicholas Snowden

Jacob Henson, Jr.

In remembering these three men, Howard County Lynching Truth & Reconciliation seeks to restore their humanity and honor their lives. This is an essential step to repairing the harm that continues today.

Rev. Hezekiah Brown’s story highlights our long history of choosing not to equitably educate Black children in Howard County. The present-day inequities written about in The Baltimore Sun are not new. They are connected to stories – mostly forgotten – from our past.

I feel so grateful to be part of the founding group of Howard County Lynching Truth & Reconciliation.

The Terror Campaign

The most recent HCLTR posting about Hezekiah Brown illuminated the ongoing terror campaign in white Howard County society, preserving the illusion that subjugating African Americans was a justified way of life, appealing to invented fears of violence toward white Americans. The Baltimore American newspaper reported the lynching of Reverend Hezekiah Brown after he was allegedly intimate with a white woman named Fannie Schultz, “excised an undue influence over her”, and “carried her to a colored minister” where they were married. Truth be told, Reverend Brown was not married to Fannie. Her son attended the school where he taught. Rev. Brown taught at the Asbury Chapel, and he later became the Principal of the Ellicott City Colored school. He was most certainly not lynched. A fact that could have been easily confirmed with simple research strategies, but maybe that wasn’t the point. (Personally, I think that the way the news was reported back at this time was part of the problem. The state’s attorney for HC sent someone to investigate after the story broke. I suspect that’s what led to the retraction. One wonders if a retraction would have happened had it not been a situation involving what was a crime.)The Baltimore Sun printed a story two days later revealing that Reverend Brown had not been lynched and the Baltimore American subsequently retracted the article, but not until after their original lynching story had been picked up by newspapers in other states. So why is this important? Fear. Fear and the justification for white violence ensuring subjugation. An ongoing terror campaign to keep the “us vs. them” alive and well in Howard County, keeping the door wide open for justified violence and oppression against the African American citizens in Howard County.

So where does this fit into the Howard County I grew up in and where I am proud to live and work to this day? I feel blessed to be one of the first kids to move into Columbia, to be a member of the first kindergarten class at Bryant Woods and to graduate from Wilde Lake High School. My commitment to this community continued professionally and personally. I was fortunate to work in Howard County as a police officer and then as an employee of the public school system. For me it was a personal dedication to the philosophy of diversity and equity in community work that was the foundation of my life. I continued to engage with the Columbia dream with my children, who also attended from kindergarten through high school in the Columbia schools. Columbia has been the linchpin around which my life has turned and I recognize how important it is to me. 

When this project started, I recognized the importance of truth and reconciliation as a part of the Columbia philosophy. In the late 1960s, Columbia was designed by James Rouse as a controversial community that attempted to make a small dent in the “us vs. them” by bringing together people of different faiths, different race and ethnicity, different socioeconomic status; to try to get rid of the “railroad track divide” typically seen in most American towns where neighborhoods were divided and people didn’t dare cross those “tracks” out of fear of retribution. What I notice now in Howard County is the resurgence and desire to rebuild those “railroad tracks”, to divide, to feed the fear behind the “us vs. them”. It’s what I see when house values vary widely just a few streets over. It’s what I see when people will go to great lengths to keep their children out of certain schools because they have worked hard to keep their children out of schools with “those kinds of people”. The perspective that there are not enough seats at the table and that success is only achieved through the calculated and systematic oppression of many other people. 

Howard County has a history that affects each one of us today, whether we know it to be able to acknowledge it, or not. Facing these truths and tearing down the gates designed to  keep people as less than is an important part of being a member of the Howard County community. My spiritual community in Columbia has a saying, “Love over Fear”. They are my quirky, loving, rule bending, accepting community that told me as a child that I was loved and I was enough just as I am. This community, that is mostly white, strives to acknowledge the role it plays in historical injustice and to try to right those wrongs through words and deeds, because if it hurts the heart of one it hurts all our hearts. Recently our  community struggled with the name of the building where we worship. The building was named after the Olivers who owned slaves in Howard County. This was not a commonly known fact until members of the group began the process of reckoning with our history. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic we struggled with our response to this knowledge of the building’s history, working through a group process via  Zoom We ultimately decided to change the name of the building where we worship because we are a community based on love and acceptance, and because what we do matters. We still have a long way to go and we continue to work together to find ways to remove barriers so that all are welcome in our spiritual family. For me, I try to bring that love with me everyday and when I feel fear welling up, I ask myself to begin again with love.

(Memorial marker in the KC Church Sacred Garden)

“We cannot right the wrongs of the present without a fuller and deeper knowledge of the slave past” – Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Annora Hallendorff Bailey

On The Cusp of History

I am not what you would call a history buff, but I have always enjoyed reading books about historical figures, watching movies and TV shows based on historical facts and hearing personal stories and lectures based on historical findings.  I especially admire those who devote their time and resources in research to uncover hidden truths of the past and give voice to those whose voices have been silenced or prevented from telling their truth

As a child growing up in the 1960’s, my parents were instrumental in cultivating my interest in history by taking my siblings and I to the many museums and galleries in and around Washington DC and Maryland. I have fond memories of exploring life in a city that wasn’t just the capital of our country, but to us felt like the epicenter of the world. During those years we also witnessed history as we saw the civil rights movement unfold with protests, marches, sit-ins, and civic activism for social justice. This point in time was described as the most turbulent and divisive in world history.

Many years later after I got married, my husband and I began looking for a community that we thought would be a great place to raise a family, and after some research and visiting various locations, we moved to the community of Columbia in Howard County Maryland. Similar to my parents who had moved to DC during the Great Migration of African Americans who relocated from the rural south to cities in the north, they came seeking a safe, fair and equable environment for their family that would open doors to social and economic opportunities. A lot has changed since my parents moved north, but so much more work still has to be done to address racial inequity.

As the year 2020 nears an end, we have witnessed peaceful demonstrations protesting the violence against people of color and systemic racism not just across the U. S. but thousands worldwide have shown solidarity with many of the voices crying for justice. The killing of George Floyd has renewed a movement for change that has united people of all ages, races and economic backgrounds. After viewing the video of what happened to Mr. Floyd, members of the UN Human Rights Council meet and issued a critique of the event as ” a modern-day racial terror lynching” and are calling for investigations on systemic racism. We are witnessing events that have similarities and differences with the civil rights movement of the 1960s that historians are just beginning to explore, and some are calling this time “A National Reckoning” and “The New Reconstruction.”  The cries for justice that are happening today are motivating many of our legislators, law enforcement and those in power to reexamine many of our legislative policies, and to move toward policy changes that better serve the common good. 

It is encouraging to see action for change happening in our local community. In June of this year, more than 400 current and former students from Howard County wrote testimonies and signed a petition that was sent to the board of education and the school administration saying how racism is a problem in the school system, and HoCo4 Justice held a March & Vigil for Black Lives at the lakefront in Columbia, MD. Also, this year The Maryland State Medical Society called racism a “tragic and ongoing public health crisis”, and has created the Empowerment and Advocacy Task Force, to make recommendations for how doctors and health professionals can promote equity and actively address issues of racial disparity in their work. In October the Howard County council voted to approve legislation to establish Howard County’s first Racial Equity Task Force that will study racial disparities throughout the county and make legislative recommendations to the council.

This year is leaving us with a lot of stories and information that could fill volumes of books, countless movies, TV shows and blog posts. As with the 1960’s, we are witnessing what could be the cusp of historical transformation.

I am thankful for this opportunity to share my thoughts as a founding member of the Howard County Lynching Truth & Reconciliation.

Gina Richardson


Compensation Given For Howard County, MD Slaves

The question has come up: “Were any Howard County Maryland enslavers compensated for claims made to the government for money after the effects of Emancipation?” The question gets posed when some look at the list of enslavers who placed their names on a list in 1867 that was designed to express their interest in being compensated for the “loss” of the value of those they had held in captivity/enslavement who were liberated. That list is on our website HERE

After hearing from one person who shall remain nameless that they had been told by a person of authority that the answer was “no”, I decided to do a little dig to put it to the test. I already knew the story of a Dorsey that I’d been tracking for a novel in progress, so I knew where to look. The following story involves Mary Moxley, James Walters, George D. Walters, Caroline V. Walters and the Bell children who had been enslaved by them all..

Mary Moxley appeared on the 1840 census, living in Division 3 of Anne Arundel county (was prior to Howard being a separate county). The census taker noted 2 white females between the ages of 60 and 70 in her household, and Mary was one of them. A few years later on June 11, 1846, Mary created her last Will and testament. Mary couldn’t read nor write, so she placed her “X” upon the record you see below. She bequeathed various enslaved persons to her family members as follows:

To her niece Harriett L. Walters: “one negro boy Tom and one negro woman named Lid”

To William G. Walters, son of James Walters, Jr: “a negro boy Henson”

To Caroline V. Walters: “a negro girl named Juay”

To George D. Walters: “a negro girl named Caroline”


courtesy, “Maryland Register of Wills Records, 1629-1999,” images, FamilySearch ( : 20 May 2014), Howard > Wills 1840-1862 vol 1 > image 1 of 273; Hall of Records, Annapolis.

There are many people who are of the mistaken belief that only men enslaved persons. That’s simply untrue, and Mary was just one example of many. The 1850 slave schedule for Maryland that has the name “Harriett Walters” contains the details regarding the 27 people she enslaved. James enslaved 6.





The observant reader will notice that there aren’t any last names written for the enslaved people listed in Mary’s will. This was an interesting phenomenon that isn’t discussed enough regarding slavery of this time period. You’ll see that first and last names were noted for her heirs. Did Mary not know the last names of those she enslaved, or did it make it easier to treat them as property to give to her heirs if she didn’t think of them as humans in family units such as her own? The slave schedule entries of 1850 above does the same: depersonalized humans by referring to them only by features used to assign monetary value to them (age, sex and perception of skin color).

So, how is it known that there were enslaved children with the last name “Bell” being enslaved by the Walters family?

For that, another database was consulted. Within the website lies documentation in the form of petitions that were made by Caroline Walters, James Walters, and James on behalf of George D. Walters. Each were making claims for their perceived losses due to the emancipation of those they had enslaved.

Jesse Maria Bell was said to be 18 years old as of 1862. That would have made her about 2 years old when Mary Moxley gave Jesse to Caroline in 1846. Caroline went on to state that Jesse was an “excellent house servant, chamber maid waiter or nurse” and “I am not aware of any bodily or mental defect to detract from her full value as a healthy, trusty, and faithful servant.”

Next is George. George was the son of James Walters. That is known because of the affidavit filed with the petition made on George’s behalf by his father, in which George is referred to as his “infant” son (which means, underage). George was 17 years old when the petition for compensation got filed by his father in 1862. That would have made him about one year old when Mary Moxley gave him a slave.

The claim for compensation was for the loss of the services of Caroline Bell. Written on the claim was “The said negro woman was born at the residence of the affiant, and he has known her ever since.” Also, “He does not know a more valuable woman..”

The thing about Caroline Bell is that she was listed by James to have been almost 17 years old. “Almost” means she was 16. That means that baby George was given a baby girl, Caroline, when Mary made out her will 16 years prior in 1846. It is interesting to see Mr Walters consider his 17 year old son to be a minor, yet 16 year old Caroline to be a “negro woman”. Washington, D.C., U.S., Slave Owner Petitions, 1862-1863[database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. This collection was indexed by Ancestry World Archives Project contributors.
Original data:Records of the Board of Commissioners for the Emancipation of Slaves in the District of Columbia, 1862–1863. NARA Microfilm Publication M520, 6 rolls. Records of the United States General Accounting, Record Group 217. National Archives, Washington, D.C


James also did a claim of his own. In his claim, one gets to see how the enslaved were sometimes lent to other family members (in this case) in another state (DC). This of course was in addition to them being essentially “leased out” by enslavers to others who may not have wanted to have the tax payment that came with owning property. (Yes, enslavers were taxed by the county for their enslaved). James reported having received Margaret from his father (also named James Walters) in 1828. Since she was reported to have been 56 in 1862, that means she was born near 1806 and was 22 when he received her. Alexander and Maria were children of Margaret’s, both whom James considered to be “slaves for life”. All of them were living in DC with James Walters, Sr, with his son’s consent. Margaret was reported to be “No. 1 cook, washer, and ironer”, Alexander “good looking”, and Maria was married.

This 1862 financial claim regarding Margaret is likely one of the first documents acknowledging her existence. No other prior records could be found mentioning her. It is unclear who (if anyone) was paying the tax associated with enslaving her. In 1850, she’d have been 44 and no line contains a person of that age on the listing for James above. His father in DC also didn’t report anyone with that age to authorities.

The same can be said for 1860. The Howard County James Walters reported no one 54 years old, nor did his father in DC.



As for Caroline Bell, perhaps the DC James reported her age wrong (above, he reported an 11 and an 18 year old female in 1860) and he was the one paying the tax.

As for the compensation part, all claimed their enslaved to have high dollar values. That is known because of the report that contains the following info regarding those claims:


  1. Caroline Walters placed a value on Jesse Bell at $800.
  2. James Walters collectively valued Margaret, Alexander and Maria at $2200.
  3. James Walters, on behalf of his son, valued Caroline Bell at $800.

The final valuations were:

  • Caroline Walters’ claim for Jesse Bell was ultimately valued at $459.90
  • James Walters had his claim valued at $109.30+(what looks like $613.20)+481.80= 1204.30
  • James on behalf of George was $481.80 for Caroline Bell.

Courtesy, “District of Columbia Court and Emancipation Records, 1820-1863,” images, FamilySearch ( : 10 February 2017), Roll 1, Minutes, lists of petitions and awards, and final report 1862-1863 > Records of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia relating to Slaves, 1862-1863, M520 > image 223 of 669; citing NARA microfilm publication M520, M433, and M434 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

Nearly one million dollars was paid out to enslavers who filed claims under the DC Compensated Emancipation Act. I’ve read that there were more than 930 petitions filed and approved for enslavers who received pay. The legislation provided that an enslaver would receive “up to $300” for each freed person. Receiving a document showing they had been freed by their enslaver, was a requirement. More on that program can be found HERE

Caroline didn’t show up for the hearing on Thursday October 3, 1862, but James Walters did and he brought along a “Maria Bell”. James was examined about his loyalty to the Union, and Maria was asked about Caroline’s health, etc. The person responsible for the valuation of Caroline and others for the Commissioners was the notorious enslaver, Bernard M. Campbell. Campbell had been responsible for placing a dollar value on many enslaved who had been on auction blocks in Baltimore City as well as those sold to him by estate administrators and others for transportation and enslavement to the Lower South. He would have known the game.


“District of Columbia Court and Emancipation Records, 1820-1863,” images, FamilySearch ( : 10 February 2017), Roll 1, Minutes, lists of petitions and awards, and final report 1862-1863 > Records of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia relating to Slaves, 1862-1863, M520 > image 162 of 669; citing NARA microfilm publication M520, M433, and M434 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

Here is the page showing the payment received by the Walters family. James acknowledged receiving payment for all of their claims.

“District of Columbia Court and Emancipation Records, 1820-1863,” images, FamilySearch ( : 10 February 2017), Roll 1, Minutes, lists of petitions and awards, and final report 1862-1863 > Records of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia relating to Slaves, 1862-1863, M520 > image 477 of 669; citing NARA microfilm publication M520, M433, and M434 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

Did Caroline find her way back to Howard County after the proceedings in DC? YES she did! First, it’s important to show the following…

James Walters placed these names on his Maryland list for purposes of trying to get compensated in 1867. That full list in on this website under “The Enslavers” tab. While the relationship between Lydia Bell (33), Mary Bell (3), Benjamin Bell (9) and Hannah Bell (11) to Caroline isn’t known with certainty, she must have had ties to them that caused her to return.

Image taken from file supplied courtesy of the Maryland State Archives

Caroline Bell’s story has been an absolute pleasure to research and create. Before I get to her coming back to Howard County, something needs to be restated. There was another purpose for showcasing her story here.

James Walters is the person who agreed to release Nicholas Snowden from his enslavement in order to fight in the Civil War as a substitute for someone who didn’t want to. Mr. Walters was to get financially compensated for having agreed to release Nicholas from enslavement in order to enlist. Nicholas’ name doesn’t appear on the 1867 list above, because he had been freed to fight as a member of the USColored Troops before it was created. Here is Nicholas’ paperwork:

Courtesy, Howard County Historical Society. Can also be accessed via

I postulate that it’s entirely possible that Caroline Bell knew Nicholas Snowden. George resided with his father. He was listed as continuing to reside with him on the 1860 census, where he is listed to be 15. It would all depend upon exactly when Nicholas started living there, and how much time it overlapped with Caroline also being there before going to DC.


Finally, there’s Caroline Bell’s return to Howard County.

In 1870, she was reported as being the 25 year old cook for the Ellicott City household of the Howard County Register of Wills, Benjamin Dorsey.


The stories she could have told about things seen and heard in that household! Did you catch the nearby household in the census image above?? A cook of a similar age to Caroline, whose name was Susan Jackson, worked for James E. VanSant. VanSant was listed as a “merchant” in 1870, but that would soon change. He was the Mayor of Ellicott City for a term, but lost his bid for re-election in 1875. He then became Ellicott City’s chief of police chief in 1877. The stories Susan could have told! More on VanSant when we look at the Jacob Henson, Jr case, since he factors into it.

Across the County in District 5, Benjamin Bell, reported by James Walters on his 1867 claim form to have been his 9 year old “slave for life”, was living with Waters and his family in 1870 as a farm laborer…right alongside of George D. Walters who used to enslave Caroline.

Wish I could have interviewed them all.



Final Note: There were other Howard Countians who did the same as James Walters did. It was an indication of people who were made to work in DC. Andrew Mercer and John A. Dorsey (prior Orphan’s Court judge) were two easily-recognized names for me due to my interest in them both for another project. Links to records for them both are below.

Andrew Mercer of R’s records can be found HERE


no award given, because he failed to produce the guy for them to see.

John A Dorsey’s records can be found HERE His petition was marked “after time” (late). He was trying to get paid for two runaways (Nelson and Luther) who had left a year or so before, who he believed to be in DC. Both had been inheritances from he and his wife’s parents.


For more on Vansant, check out the police department museum’s website where you’ll also see his photo. That is HERE

Marlena Jareaux



2020 Compassion For A USCT Veteran

The next man our group will be looking at is a vet. For too long, the Howard County historical community and beyond has been content to label Nicholas Snowden as simply a Black man lynched for allegedly assaulting a Black girl named Alberta, according to the newspapers of the time. Some recent comments in the community have included something along the lines of “Well, he did something to a young girl, so what’s there left to say?”

The HCLTR group challenges you to view him with more information. Nicholas Snowden was a veteran of the Civil War. Nicholas had also been enslaved by James Walters, who released Nicholas from his enslavement on the condition that Nicholas fight in some man’s place in the Civil War as a substitute. He was 19. It was a one-sided written agreement which would entitle his enslaver to receive financial compensation for Nicholas’ labor in the military. The payment Nicholas would receive would be his freedom. We’ll never know whether Nicholas agreed to the terms, since his signature wasn’t called for on the  paper Walters signed on June 14, 1864. Keep in mind that this was more than a year AFTER Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation went into effect which didn’t apply to the enslaved in Maryland. This would have been one way for Nicholas to obtain his freedom besides running away from his enslaver. 

Courtesy, Howard County Historical Society

Nineteen year old Nicholas is believed to have been a part of Company B of the 30th regiment of the U.S. Colored Troops Infantry, enlisting on June 15, 1864. Nicholas was a wounded veteran. We know this because he was reported in his service files to have been wounded “before Petersburg”, and that he was sent to the hospital on July 30, 1864. 

Accessed via

We don’t know what his wounds were (yet). We assume they were physical, but it’s conceivable that there could have been more. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) wasn’t acknowledged in the 1860s. Did the Civil War and the wounds he received have an effect on his life? Though we have not yet found evidence that Nicholas was viewed in 1885 through the lens of him being a war vet, our group WILL be with compassion. 

According to Louis Diggs, it is possible that members of the 30th were depicted in the photo below. Taken on August 4, 1864, we don’t yet know if Nicholas may have possibly returned to battle after being hospitalized in July, and therefore was in this scene (depicted or not). It does provide a great visual for an aspect of the war that helped to shape the country.

Civil war photographs, 1861-1865, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

For more on Louis Diggs and his work in this area, you can read more by clicking the link. Interestingly, another vet from Ellicott’s Mills is mentioned as having been captured and died. Riley Pitts was reported to have been “owned” by Edward Pitts. He was a Prisoner of War, sent by Confederates to Salisbury NC on November 24, 1864 AFTER the state’s new Constitution banning slavery in Maryland. He died in January 1865, never getting to experience freedom. 


Marlena Jareaux