History Archives — General History 

Articles previously published in The Bell Tower

Tracing our Roots | The Land Around Us | The Banks Saga | The Ladies Aid
The Consecration of All Saints’ Church | Slaves and the Civil War
The Land of Goshen | 119 Year-Old Letter Comes to Light | A Treasure Returned

A Record of Our Beginnings 

March 2007

Reisterstown Parish was admitted into the Diocese of Maryland in 1871; however, the local people who founded it trace their church activity to at least twenty years earlier when they were a part of St. Thomas’ Parish. The so-called “Reisterstown Parish Register (#1)” dates to 1852, making it our oldest official record – a valuable resource. Within its brittle cover may be found the names of hundreds of people who were a part of our parish’s early history.

The register, handwritten in that beautiful penmanship so typical of the nineteenth century, preserves the names and dates of Parish Families, Baptisms, Confirmations, Communicants, Marriages, and Burials. Essentially, the book encompasses the years of our first leader, the Rev. Dr. Arthur John Rich, who served as chaplain at the Hannah More Academy and as rector at both All Saints’ Chapel and Church.

Section 1 (Families) covers only the year 1894 and lists 141 individuals. Families with six or more members include Bushey, Ireland, Kinnear, Lockard, Nairn, Reese, Wilson, and Worthington.

In Section 2, beginning in 1852, forty-one years of baptisms are recorded. Sixteen-year-old Mary Ann Norfolk and her older sister are listed as the first two to be christened. In 1883, eighteen days after its opening, All Saints’ Chapel on Bond Avenue witnessed its first baptism. And on the day of consecration, October 29, 1891, All Saints’ Church welcomed infant Juliana Brent Keyser as a member in Christ.

By careful reading, interesting facts may be gleaned from the baptismal records, including the following:
(1) Multiple baptisms were common, (2) African-American baptisms were also frequent, (3) The notation “ill” appears next to the names of many people, especially children, (4) all twelve of Rev. Rich’s children, two of whom died, are recorded, (5) immediately after the conclusion of the Civil War, two children of Col. William Norris, CSA, were christened – Jefferson Davis Norris and William Catesby Norris.

For the period 1853 through 1881, 273 confirmations took place in the parish, with notable exceptions from 1862-1865, the war years. The first recorded was on Easter Day, with 12 people being confirmed. Curiously, the very last baptism in the register was #528, that of seventy-two year old Col. William Norris in 1893.

Section 4 lists communicants by name for eight specific years. Because of the composition and location of our pre- and early parish, many communicants were either pupils or teachers at Hannah More Academy (for girls) and St. George’s Hall (for boys).

Marriages, from 1853 to 1894, occurred at various locations and included African-Americans. While this area was known to have both free and enslaved Negroes during this period, listings such as the following were typical: William Howard (col.), servant of Henry Ducker, and Emily Smith (col.), servant of Richard Norris.

Burials (Section 6) cover a forty-year time period. The first was that of Mary Jeen Gouker (infant) at the Reisterstown Burial Ground. At least 46 of the 191 people listed were children. Typical causes of death were consumption, diphtheria, dysentery, and scarlet fever. One died as the result of a lightning strike. Sadly, in March of 1879, seven members of the Chinworth Family were buried at the Methodist Episcopal Burying Ground, six having died of diphtheria. In total, more than 30 cemeteries, some of them private, are noted in the register.

Near the end of the listings, on July 7, 1893, the name Rev.Arthur J. Rich appears. He was 64 years of age, having served a long and distinguished career, both in founding and in overseeing the young Reisterstown Parish.

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Tracing Our Roots to St. Thomas’ Church 

February 2002

All Saints’ Church, dating from 1891, is today the only Episcopal church in what is officially known as Reisterstown Parish in Baltimore County, Maryland. In 1870 our parish boundaries were carved from two pre-existing parishes, Western Run and St. Thomas, both still in existence.

But, technically speaking, our history springs from St. Paul’s Parish, Baltimore, to which all three parishes trace their roots.

What is known today as Owings Mills and Garrison was virgin territory in the late 1600s when settlers first built forts (or garrisons) as protection against native Indians. The remoteness of the area prompted the establishment of a ‘Chapel of Ease for the Forest Inhabitants.’ In 1742 members of St. Paul’s Church became subscribers for its construction, this being just thirteen years after the incorporation of Baltimore City and a whole generation before the American Revolution.

Among the many prominent Marylanders who attended and served St. Thomas’ was John Eager Howard, Revolutionary War hero and three times governor. The first rector was the Reverend Thomas Cradock, a native Englishman, whose name is still linked with this area.

Over the years St. Thomas’ Church grew in size. Significant additions were made in 1891. Then, in 1970, the entire interior was removed so that a basement could be constructed; a narthex and balcony were also added before the original interior was carefully replaced.

Today the 260-year-old church that served early settlers and, later, faculty and students of the Hannah More Academy, still retains its 18th century charm. A stroll through the surrounding graveyard reveals the names of families readily familiar to many of us today. Both the people and the church of St. Thomas are an important part of the All Saints’ heritage.

– Neal Haynie, Parish Archivist

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The Land Around Us 

March 2003

Chartley, Sacred Heart, Somerset, Glyndon – all familiar place names to current day residents living in the Reisterstown Parish. But two hundred years ago or more, people who lived in this area recognized names like Reisters’s Desire, Hanson’s Chance, The Chase, Brotherly Love, Nathan’s Forest, and Spring Garden – all at the heart of what we now call Reisterstown.

In the 1880s William Keyser, in order to provide himself a more direct route from his estate on Cockeysmill road to the railroad station in Glyndon, had overseen the construction of Chatsworth Avenue, known by many locals as Keyser Avenue. When the opportunity arose in 1890 to provide the parish with a new church, he purchased, for the grand total of $250 three lots along the new road and deeded it the following year for one dollar to the Vestry. Fourteen months later All Saints’ Church was a fait acompli.

Thanks to the Maryland Historical Trust we are able to go back in time and discover how all the pieces fit together. The area now comprising the intersection of Chatsworth Avenue and Main Street was known as Spring Garden, dating back to 1732. The founding of Reisters Town occurred in 1758. The owner of Spring Garden, one Benedict Swope, actually laid out lots – never developed which he intended to call New German Town. By 1768, fifty-five acres, including a stone residence were bought by Daniel Bower and rented to his son-in-law, William Berryman. (Bower and Berryman are still street names in this area.)

By the end of the eighteenth century a part of the Bower land had been deeded to his daughter Catharine and her husband Andrew Banks who operated a general store on the Turnpike. Their son, Daniel Bower Banks, married Margaret Whitelock in 1830 and is presumed to be the builder, that same year, of Chatsworth, the two storied stone house which still sits grandly at the end of West Chatsworth Avenue.

The next generation, Andrew Banks, ties directly to the history of All Saints’ Church. Born in 1838, he served as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates and was responsible for improving the Chatsworth buildings. In 1883 he purchased at auction additional “back land” from the Forney estate. It is probable that the All Saints’ property came from this land. What happened to the fortunes of Andrew Banks in the late 1880s can only be surmised, for he was described as “insolvent” in 1890 on the deed granted to William Keyser. Andrew Banks died in 1909 and is buried at All Saints’ Cemetery along with twelve other members of the Banks family.

– Neal Haynie, Parish Archivist

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The Banks Saga 

December 2004

Back in March of 2003 we discussed “the land around us” which included an investigation of ownership of the land on which All Saints’ church was built. Recently we were fortunate in being visited by two descendents of Andres Banks — Daniel Bower Banks IV of San Gabriel, California and William Wallace Banks, Jr., of New Market, Maryland. Both of these gentlemen are actively involved in preserving the history of the Banks family and have contributed significantly to our Archives. Through them we discovered the connection between three Reisterstown families — Banks, Godwin, and Bower. Members of the first two families are buried at All Saints’ Cemetery. Eleven generations of the banks family have now been entered into the all Saints’ Genealogies.

As already recorded, the All Saints’ property was purchased at auction by William Keyser in 1890 from the holdings of Andrew Banks (II) upon his insolvency. Mr. Banks, who owned property on both the west and east sides of Main Street, also owned a tavern as well as Chatsworth Farms which still exists at the end of West Chatsworth Avenue. Two of his sisters are said to have been married at the home in the 1800s. Andrew was the husband of Rebecca Godwin whose family has been traced back to the 1700s; nine members of the Godwin family lie at rest in All Saints’ Cemetery.

Reisterstown’s Chatsworth House has a lineage of its own. This home was presumably built by Andrew’s father, Daniel Bower Banks, about 1830, and named after his Baltimore City townhouse of the same name. The original Chatsworth (pre-1754) on Franklin Street, was constructed by Dr. George Walker. one of the commissioners who laid out the City of Baltimore. It was his son-in-law, William Lux, another owner of Chatsworth, for whom Baltimore’s Light Street was named.

The Bowers of Reisterstown who married into the Banks family in the late 1700s, are also of interest. Tracing their roots back to a burgomaster of Strasbourg, they arrived via England and Pennsylvania in Baltimore County in the 1700s. Col. Daniel Bower settled in German Town (now Reisterstown) where he bought land on both sides of the highroad. The inn he established was said to have been visited by George Washington, in whose honor he named his holdings Washington Town. The name (and the lots he mapped out) did not meet with success, however it was the Reister family which flourished and gave its name to the growing region.

The Bower inn was eventually destroyed by fire, and today the Franklin Middle School property occupies the site. Daniel’s daughter Kitty married Andrew Banks; it was through her that the Bower property descended to the Banks family, then part of it to All Saints’ Church. And, had circumstances worked out differently, it is altogether plausible that we might be known today as Banksville!

Neal Haynie, Parish Archivist

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The Ladies Aid 

August 2006

Episcopal church women, by whatever name they organize themselves, have long been a pillar of support for their church. Mrs. Fannie Rich, wife of Reisterstown Parish’s first rector, is generally believed to be the founder of our Ladies Aid Society, later to be known as the Women’s Guild, the Women’s Auxiliary, and various other titles.

The main source of information of this dutiful group is contained in a single, fragile composition book, now over 100 years old. It is a record of the meetings of the Society from 1892 to 1905, all recorded in the same elegant handwriting, probably that of Miss Nannie Dickson, Secretary.

For much of its existence, the Ladies Aid met bi-weekly (except during the summer) for six hours at a time. Though they had been formed earlier, the first meeting on record occurred November 4, 1892, in the Sunday School room of the church. That space is, today, the pipe room for our organ. The purpose of the Society was to hold entertainments and to solicit fund-raising work. This consisted of sewing and selling articles of clothing.

On November 22 (1892) the group met at the home of Mrs. Ed. Cockey. “Besides spending a pleasant day, the work accomplished was three night-wrappers – two chemises – three aprons – making eight pieces finished, which were sold, amounting to $2.60.”

A report for the spring of 1893 shows that over a five month period 160 pieces had been made, of which 104 were sold. The largess of the Society paid for the purchase of a hedge along the front of the cemetery at a cost of $100. (It is written elsewhere, in a history of All Saints’, that Ladies Aid also financed the installation of a boardwalk between Reisterstown and Glyndon.)

The ladies, frequently at Glyndon Hall, also organized special benefits. hese included a Strawberry Festival, an Entertainment with “Stereopticon Views & Lecture on the World’s Fair”, an Oyster Supper, and a Benefit Supper held “in the woods opposite All Saints Church.”

Two deaths of note were also recorded in the minutes – in 1893 the death of the Reverend A. J. Rich, and in 1905 the passing of Treasurer Mrs. A. A. Rich, daughter-in-law of Reverend Rich.

Most work meetings of Ladies Aid took place in members’ homes. But in October of 1895, by majority vote, the ladies decided to move future meetings to the old chapel on Bond Avenue. After the first meeting there, however, they had relocated to Miss Dickson’s home. Perhaps the chapel proved unsuitable for a sociable work site.

With two exceptions, minutes in the old composition book are missing from 1896 to1903, but resume briefly in 1904 and early 1905. In the back of the book is contained a chart of members’ attendance. Presumably, the good works of The Ladies Aid continued on for some time. Thankfully, they did leave us a small time capsule of their contributions to our young parish.

– Neal Haynie, Parish Archivist

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The Consecration of All Saints’ Church 

Thursday, October 29, 1891

February 2007

A bright, fall day greeted several hundred visitors to the grounds of All Saints’ Church on Thursday,October 29, 1891, upon the invitation of William Keyser, benefactor of the newly constructed churchin rural Reisterstown. It was a momentous occasion, marking a permanent home for a parish which had been established twenty years earlier, and whose roots went back to the 1850s.

In the words of The Baltimore Sun the following morning:

“The Clergy, twenty-nine in number, assembled in a large tent some distance from the church to don their robes for the service of consecration. Proceeding two by two, with Bishop Paret, in his robes of office… the priests wended their way slowly through the beautiful church-yard over the rustling, fallen leaves and under stately trees. The procession paused at the entrance and waited for the Bishop to make his way to the closed doors. Responding to the triple summons the vestrymen and wardens, awaiting him within, threw open the wide doors and handed over to the Bishop the key of the church in symbolical presentation. The consecrator then preceded the train of clergy toward the chancel, pronouncing slowly and impressively the verses of the twenty-fourth Psalm … ending, as they neared the chancel, with the words, “Lift up your heads, O Ye Gates, even lift them up, ye everlasting doors and the King of Glory shall come in…”

“Mr. Keyser pronounced the sentence of presentation. One of the vestrymen, Mr. Edward Rich, read the official deed of gift, which announced that the church was free from debt….” Rev. J. W. Larmour read the deed of consecration. Rev. Dr. Hodges delivered the consecration sermon, taking for his text the lines, “What mean ye by this service.” He made a tribute to the beloved rector of the parish, Rev. Dr. Arthur J. Rich. At the offertory Miss Elizabeth Starr rendered an anthem for mezzo-soprano, “The Souls of the Righteous are in the Hands of God.”

“Masses of white and rose-colored chrysanthemums rose about the cross from vases, and were strewn at their base. On each window was banked a cluster of the beautiful flowers of autumn beneath the tablets inlaid in the window inscribed to the memory of former active workers in the church.”

The Sun’s article continues with an impressive list of citizens from Baltimore, Reisterstown, and out of state who attended the opening day service of consecration. Members of the clergy included:

Rev. Savington Crampton (Baltimore County), Rev. Dr. James Houston Eccleston (Emmanuel Church), Rev. Neilson Falls (Washington), Rev. Theodore Gambrall (Dean of Annapolis Convocation), Rev. Frederick Gibson (St. George’s Church), Rev. E. H. C. Goodwin (New York), Rev. Edward Gray (Editor, Maryland Churchman), Rev. Dr. J. S. B. Hodges (St. Paul’s Church), Rev. Worrall Larmour (St. John’s Parish), Rev. Edward Lawrence (Pikesville), Rev. Dr. George A. Leakin (son of Baltimore’s former mayor), Rev. Walter Mitchell (Hagerstown), Rev. Francis Moran (Archdeacon of Annapolis), Rev. Joseph Murphy, Rev. Heber Murphy (Calvert County), Rev. Robert Paine (Mt. Calvary Church), The Rt. Rev. William Paret (the Sixth Bishop of Maryland), Rev. Adolphus Pindell (Baltimore and New York), Rev. A. C. Powell (Grace Church), Rev. Alexander Rich (Deacon, Baltimore County), Rev. Dr. A. J. Rich (Rector, Reisterstown Parish), Rev. Hobart Smith (St. Thomas’ Church), Rev. Dr. George Stokes (Church of the Redeemer), Rev. Pierre Trapier (Chaplain, Hannah More Academy), Rev. William Turner (Grace Church), Rev. W. R. Webb (Syracuse, NY), Rev. Gilbert Williams (Dean of the Washington Convocation), and Rev. Thomas J. Wyatt (Baltimore County).

– Neal Haynie, Parish Archivist

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Slaves and the Civil War 

April 2007

Volumes have been written about the great battles and well known sites of the American Civil War, but only scattered details can be found about how the war affected life in Reisterstown which was on the fringe of the major conflicts. In the mid 1800s Marylanders were divided in their sentiments, and those who actively supported the South fled to Virginia where they served with the Confederacy.

Ostensibly, the nation split apart because of disagreements on tariffs and states’ rights. But the underlying bone of contention was the issue of slavery. Since its settlement in the 1500s, wealthy Marylanders had owned Negro slaves in order to support a thriving tobacco and agricultural economy. By 1808 the slave trade was officially outlawed. Slavery itself, however, flourished for another six decades. \well into the early years of what was to become the Reisterstown Parish. Locally, the 5000 acre plantation of the Worthington’s is said to have held 83 slaves. (Ms. Annie Milligan, a Bond Avenue resident recalls her grandfather speaking of a whipping post on the property.” The Kepharts of Walnut Grove Farm, who later provided land for St. Luke’s Church and All Saints’ Cemetery, also owned slaves. One slave known as Fountain Hughes was in service to Major Shirley, breeder of Clydesdale horses at Chartley Farm.

John Reister, a man of modest means and no slaves, settled this area in 1758. But by the next generation, his innkeeper son and Revolutionary War soldier Philip Reister listed in a 1792 inventory six Negroes with a total value of over 107 pounds. His widow Eve retained a servant Bill for 40 years. And his son, also named Philip, manumitted servants Fanny and Walter Little and their children upon his death in 1845.

In Baltimore County, the stereotypical slave-beating master was not the norm. According to local historian Louis Diggs, “many whites were relaxed in their relationships with their slaves.” The terms slave and servant were often used synonymously, and free blacks and slaves worked side by side. The majority of blacks in Reisterstown, as in Baltimore, were free men. Their principal residences were along Bond Avenue, which was supposedly called “Bondage Row’ when slaves were bought and sold there in earlier times.

In 1834, forty-three African-Americans received permission to form a class at Asbury Chapel (now Reisterstown United Methodist); this act was most unusual for the times, as the education of negroes was usually discouraged. Records show that in 1846 John Sumwalt, a leader of Asbury Chapel, agreed to manumit six negroes when they reached the age of 23 years. And on Bond Avenue, the home of Talbert and Elizabeth Brown served as the first meeting place for what was to become St. Luke’s United Methodist Church.

Seven years before the outbreak of hostilities, our own “mother church,” St. Michael’s Chapel at Hannah More Academy, was consecrated. Mr. and Mrs. John B. Armstrong served as superintendents, but they resigned and closed the academy upon the outbreak of the war. The school’s chaplain, Dr. Arthur J. Rich, was forced to cancel a trip to the Eastern Shore in 1861 to recruit students for the struggling school, but by 1863 he had taken charge and reopened the academy with a newly organized program. Seven students enrolled, board and tuition being set at $100.

The names of residents of Reisterstown who served in the war have been mostly lost to time; how many there were we do not know. We do have proof, however, that at least twenty descendants of the Reister family took up arms — seven for the Confederacy and thirteen for the Union. The scattered clan served in units from eight different states.

At least two members of our pre-parish years are known to have actively assisted the Confederacy. The first was 21-year-old Edward Rich, brother of the Rev. Arthur J. Rich. In September of 1862 Dr. Rich wrote to Bishop Whittingham — one day after Edward was arrested in Washington for aiding the enemy. Edward, it seems, was withdrawing his request for consideration of becoming a candidate for holy orders. He did, however, eventually become a minister in the Episcopal Church.

The second Southern sympathizer was William Norris, whose home “Brookland” was on Cockeysmill Road. He moved with his family to Richmond, serving under General Magruder. By war’s end, Norris had been promoted to colonel and placed in charge of the Confederate Signal Corps and Secret Service Bureau. He is said to have been the last Confederate out of uniform at war’s end. Col. Norris’s retirement was spent at his home in Reisterstown where at the age of 76, he died of a stroke and was buried at All Saint’s Cemetery.

In the summer of 1864 Confederate Major Harry Gilmor whose home was Glen Ellen — now Loch Raven Reservoir — was ordered to circle Baltimore to the north, cutting off rail and telegraph communications. Gilmor passed through Westminster and apparently marched through Reisterstown on his way toward Cockeysville and Towson. (It was about this time that Fisher’s Tavern, in the heart of Reisterstown, served as a stop on the underground railroad.) A return route took Gilmor through the Greenspring Valley back to Reisterstown Road and Pikesville. Baltimore was thrown into panic, fearing an attack, and, did in fact, witness incursions down York Road and Charles Street.

Following the war, and eleven years after the founding of St. Michael’s Chapel, slavery was officially abolished by the 13th Amendment. But it took another three years before former slaves were guaranteed U.S. citizenship. Then, in 1870, just one year before the establishment of Reisterstown Parish, blacks were assured voting rights under the 15th Amendment. The struggle for equal rights continued, however, more that 70 years after the building of All Saints’ Church. The African-American nightmare had lasted well over three hundred years.

Neal Haynie, Parish Archivist

Sources:

  • All Saints’ Church Archives
  • Baker, Gary, “Gilmore’s Ride Around Baltimore”
  • Diggs, Louis, Holding on to Their Heritage, 1996
  • Marks, Lillian Bayly, Reister’s Desire, 1975
  • Maryland Diocesan Archives

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The Land of Goshen 

And Other Local Place Names

May 2007

Nowadays land owners and developers seem to take delight in attaching colorful names to their properties. How original — and how unusual — we think. But this practice is actually centuries old. Even in theh Reisterstown area, settlers were both clever and humorous in naming their land.

Land deeds in this area may be traced to the Lords Baltimore and to the Carroll family. The settlement of Reister’s Desire can be dated to 1758 when John Reister selected a 20 acre plot along the Conewago (or Hanover) Road for construction of a tavern. His land lay within a much larger Soldiers’ Delight.

Adjoining Reister’s Desire, and eventually absorbed into “Reisterstown” were Spring Garden (now Franklin Middle School), Nathan’s Foret (south of Franklin Elementary), and Brotherly Love (encompassing the intersection of Main and Glyndon Drive). These and many other land grants formed what we recognize today as “our town”.

A larger tract which now includes All Saints’ Church, from Reisterstown lumber Company to Mysticwood Road, was called Goshen Resurveyed, patented in 1745 and owned by Dr. Rovert Holliday. (In the Bible, Goshen was the territory in the Nile Delta that was settled by Jacob and his family when they fled famine stricken Canaan, and from which their descendents later escaped from the Egyptians.)

Fanciful property names abounded, and we can only guess at the reasons behind them. There were Pork Hall and Beef Hall, Charming Beauty, and Find Me Out. Near Westminster were Molly’s Industry, Cranberry Plains, and Who could Have Thought It. Puzzling ones such as Tear Cloths, Brown’s Plague, and Alexander’s Mistake are also on record.

Close to home Welshe’s Cradle has found new life near Sacred Heart Church. Devil’s Nursery was situated off Cockeysmill Road. Something, a 250 acre estate owned by David Kephart, Jr., was the location of his beautiful villa “Trevanion“.

Two other Reister properties should be noted. The first was located near Manchester. Named Reister’s Last Shift, this farm was granted to John Reister in 1762 by Frederick, 6th Lord Baltimore. It was probably John’s last real estate transaction.

Finally, a narrow strip of land running between Reister’s Desire and Brotherly Love fell into dispute at some point. Appropriately, John Reister, who claimed it, called it Doubtful. Today, if you walk south on Main Street from Bond Avenue, the property behind the homes and businesses on your right are Doubtful!!

– Neal Haynie, Parish Archivist

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119 Year-Old Letter Comes To Light 

January 2009

Faithfully each year, the granddaughters of our church’s benefactor, William Keyser, attend services with us on AH Saints’ Sunday. This past October, Juliana Watts brought with her a donation to our Archives – a handwritten letter addressed to Mr. Keyser on January 28, 1890. The author was one Thomas Richards, of whom we have no previous knowledge. Here is his letter, sent to the Canton Copperworks in Baltimore, Mr. Keyser’s business.

To William Keyser Esq:

“Please accept my Heartfelt thanks for your timely assistance. And the value of it enhances Tenfold in view, as I am informed, that you are Building a Church in memory of your Sainted and Departed Mother. What a Sublime Conception. How Beautiful the Thought. What a Grand and appropriate Monument to keep alive and perpetuate the deeds of such a Loving Personage. It reflects the highest Honour upon both Mother and Son. And the Blessing of Heaven never fails from resting upon such a deed, and follow such a Son. I am glad that in the order of Divine Providence that I have been thrown in contact with you. “Let us not be weary in well doing, for in due time we shall reap our reward if we faint not.”

I have the Honour to be your humble Servant in Christ.

Thomas Richards

The letter is important because it predates and testifies to the erection of All Saints’ Church. Keyser had made his proposal to the Vestry to build All Saints’ just three months earlier. But who was Thomas Richards? His epistle hints that he was well acquainted with Keyser and his family; and the tone of the letter carries a distinct Christian upbringing. The quote he uses comes from St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians. The puzzle led us to do some investigating.

The Canton district in Baltimore was a booming industrial neighborhood in the 1800s. Many Welshmen, already trained in copper work, emigrated here, bringing both their language and their strong Christian faith. Among these immigrants, according to the Genealogy & Biography of Leading Families, was 22 year old Thomas Richards, who, in 1868 entered the employ of the Baltimore Electric Copper Works and rapidly rose to become foreman of the refining department.

In his native Wales, Richards not only worked at a copper works, but also served as a local preacher. He had, in fact, considered entering the ministry as a youth. It is not surprising, therefore, that he was soon named local preacher of the Welsh Church in his new Baltimore neighborhood. He probably lived just around the corner on South Clinton Street (still a part of Baltimore County at that time).

And what about the church where Richards preached? Several records indicate that there has long been a church building near the corner of Highland and Toone Streets. It began as a Welsh Congregational church, then changed denominations several times over the next fifty years. It still stands today as the Canton Baptist Church and Neighborhood Center. A stone plaque with deteriorating inscription adorns its upper story.

As for the Rev. Thomas Richards, in 1880 he was examined by the Baltimore (Methodist) Conference and approved as a Local Elder in the Methodist Episcopal Church. We may never know why, according to his letter, Thomas Richards was indebted to William Keyser. Perhaps it had to do with support of Rev. Richards’ church since Keyser was a philanthropist who was known to support many causes. What we do know for sure is that Richards admired and applauded Mr. Keyser’s plan to build All Saints’ Church .

Acknowledgments:

  • Mrs. Juliana Clark Watts
  • Maryland Historical Society Library
  • The Maryland Room – Enoch Pratt Free Library
  • Lovely Lane Methodist Church Library

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A Treasure Returned 

May 2010

In the year 1852 a young medical doctor by the name of Arthur John Rich accepted the post of deacon at the 18-year-old Hannah More Academy in Reisterstown. The following year he was granted permission to build a campus chapel (St. Michael’s) within the parish of St. Thomas.

During his distinguished career, Dr. Rich served as chaplain, teacher, and headmaster at Hannah More, as well as rector of St. Michael’s. In 1857 he also served at St. John’s Church in the valley. In 1883, in an effort to better serve the residents of the community, he established All Saints’ Chapel on Bond Avenue. (The Reisterstown Parish had been admitted into union with the Convention in 1871.) Finally, when All Saints’ Church was built by William Keyser on Chatsworth Avenue, Dr. Rich served as rector during the final few years of his life.

Although some might regard Arthur J. Rich simply as the pastor of a small country church, he was highly regarded in the Diocese of Maryland. Beginning with its establishment in 1873, he was named Dean, and later Archdean, of the Convocation of Baltimore. This body, which he headed for twenty years, met “for mutual counsel, Common Prayer and united effort in the Missionary work of the Church.”

As a mark of its regard for Dr. Rich, the Convocation presented him, in 1881, a miniature or personal communion set consisting of a silver chalice and a flagon. The engraved set – each piece is only three inches tall – was expressly crafted by Samuel Kirk & Son of Baltimore.

Knowledge of the existence of this beautiful set was lost until recently when a friend of the All Saints’ Bosley family discovered it in a Howard Street antique shop. Where it has traveled over the past 129 years has not yet been discovered.

Happily, due to the beneficence of Mrs. Shirley Bosley and family, the silver set was presented to All Saints’ Church and dedicated to the memory of Charles R. Bosley, Jr. during Easter Sunday service, April 4th. Plans are underway for its display, along with other articles from the church archives, so that the entire congregation may admire this treasure from our parish history.

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