Ellicott City Book

Ellicott City CoverAs you turn the pages of this book, Ellicott City’s past does not seem that long ago. You will recognize many buildings and locales which may be familiar to you. Ellicott City has done a remarkable job of maintaining its old charm. In no way is this book intended to be an all-inclusive account of Ellicott City. Rather it is a photographic sampling of many of the places and people who have help shape its past, present, and future. How I determined which subjects and people to be included in this book was a simple process. I let the photographs that I collected guide me.

There are a few changes of time to keep in mind as you read this book. First, Howard County was not always a County unto itself. It was designated the Howard District in 1839, for John Eager Howard, the fifth governor of Maryland. Howard County became an official independent jurisdiction in 1851, the 21st of Maryland’s 23 counties, with the county seat at Ellicott’s Mills. Second, Ellicott City has not always been named such. When found by the Ellicott City Brothers the town was called Ellicott’s Mills. In 1867, a city charter was secured for Ellicott’s Mills and the name was changed to “Ellicott City.” Thirdly, Ellicott City proper is located in Howard County, but parts of it are now located in Baltimore County.

In the first chapter, “The Ellicott Brothers,” you will meet the town’s namesakes, Joseph, Andrew, and John Ellicott and their descendents. The three Quaker brothers of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, chose this picturesque wilderness to establish a flour mill in 1772, four years before the Declaration of Independence was signed. The brothers helped revolutionize farming in Maryland by persuading farmers to plant wheat instead of tobacco, and by introducing fertilizer to revitalize the depleted soil.

The second chapter, “The Mills,” will introduce you to not only the Ellicott’s Flour Mills, but the many mills that subsequently dotted the banks of the Patapsco River; Gray’s Cotton Mill, Oella Mill, Thistle Mill, Burgess Grist Mill, Alberton-Daniels Mill, and the Orange Grove Flour Mill.

The third chapter, “The Schools,” will have you soon realizing the important role that Ellicott City played in higher education. Quite a few colleges called Ellicott City home; St. Charles College, Patapsco Female Institute, and Rock Hill College. Also covered in this chapter are the lower schools of Ellicott City.

The fourth chapter, “The Churches,” shows how religiously diverse Ellicott City is. The churches covered here are: Emory Methodist Episcopal Church, St. John’s Episcopal Church, First Presbyterian Church, St. Paul’s Catholic Church, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, and First Evangelical Lutheran Church.

The fifth chapter, “The Homes,” will give you a glimpse of the early homes of Ellicott City residents. Some have stood the test of time and still stand, either as private residences or institutions. Some, fell into the path of progress and were razed. A few remnants remain; a gatepost here, a stone fence there. Included in this chapter are: Woodlawn Hall, Angelo Cottage, Mount Ida, The Lindens, Doughoregan Manor, Folly Quarter, Burleigh Manor, Oak Lawn, Font Hill, Patapsco, Spring Hill, Kraft-Slack House, Elk Ridge Farm, Macgill House, Broxton, and Temora. And what is an old house without a ghost story or two?

The sixth chapter, “The Merchants,” will have you meeting the many merchants of Ellicott City. They were vital components of daily life, as they provide the necessities to live. Whether it is a grocer, an undertaker, a banker, a tavern keeper, an artist, or a pharmacist, a town could not survive and grow without them.

The seventh chapter, “The Public Servants,” pays homage to the firemen and law keepers that maintain the order when Ellicott City found itself thrown into chaos.

The eight and final chapter, “Faces and Places,” is made up of people and images that appealed to me in my research. Many of these stories have never been told before. I hope that you find them interesting as well.

If this book is your first foray into Ellicott City history, then I encourage you to not stop when you turn the last page. Go and explore for yourself, and you just might make an historical discovery of your own! I recommend that you start your exploration of Ellicott City by visiting the Howard Country Historical Society Museum and Research Library (www.hchsmd.org) on Church Street. Take some time to visit the museum (don’t forget to drop a few dollars in the jar at the door and to pick-up a membership application).

If you are well versed on the subject of Ellicott City’s history, I hope that I cause you to pause, once or twice, to think, “I never knew that!”