Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Baltimore: 1816

Baltimore: October 1816

A City of Promise on the Bay

October 2016 marked the 200th anniversary of the launching of a fund drive to build a Christian church in Baltimore independent of any denomination and creed. The invited featured speaker in 1816 was a famous independent preacher from Boston. Those who invited him were prominent members of Baltimore City’s Mercantile elite, many of whom had their origins and family in New England.

Baltimore from York Road, ca. 1816

In October of 1816, Baltimore was a place of great promise and expectations, although the prospects of wealth and freedom were not evenly distributed among its rapidly growing population. There were storm clouds on the horizon. The dumping of vast quantities of English goods on the American market (encouraged by American merchants of whom Baltimore claimed the most adventuresome), loans on paper for a vast speculation in western lands were to prove insufficiently backed by income, the loans made for the acquisition of Louisiana were coming due to European banks such as Baring Brothers, and Entrepreneurial Baltimoreans were building stately mansions and country estates on credit generously provided by local banks which it seems they could not afford.

Between 1800 and 1810 Baltimore’s population grew to 46,555 of which 10,343 were non-white composed of 5,671 Free Blacks and 4,672 slaves. They lived in three separate areas incorporated into the city in 1797 (Fells Point, Old Town, and Baltimore Town) which had ill defined boundaries that reached out into what were called precincts to the West and East. In 1810, there was no plan for the physical growth of the city. An attempt to map the city and establish bounds for taxing purposes in 1811 failed with the resistance of the local surveyors who preferred to keep the profitable secret of lot lines and right of ways to themselves. As a result of their underhanded efforts, they sent the surveyor hired to lay out the then present and future streets and lot lines of Baltimore, packing to New York. There he became a successful surveyor of lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, producing in 1816 a highly reliable and accurate map of lower Manhattan. In 1817 Thomas Poppleton would be called back to Baltimore, this time under an act passed by the legislature of Maryland that called for the boundaries of the city to encompass nearly 15 square miles (14.71 square miles to be exact), that included the annexation to the city of the Eastern and Western Precincts. Baltimore would have a map whether it's surveyors and the city government wanted it or not. The Federalist dominated legislature not only told the city what it had to do to define itself and future development, it also pushed the boundaries of the city outward to encompass those pesky Democratic-Republicans who were threatening Federalist dominance of Baltimore County.

Travelers to Baltimore in 1816 would visit a city without a plan, but with some striking buildings, fine homes, and more to come. Some would come from the north and the east by roads that took them from the heights of the piedmont where they could just see the steeples of the city and the Chesapeake Bay and beyond.

Ads for turtle soup, October 1816

They would enjoy the fine cuisine at the Union Hotel, or other famous eating spots in town where such as the delicacy of Turtle soup was featured.

Steamboat ad, October 19, 1816

But most came by water to the wharves of the city, some by steamboat, others by sail. Some moved on, but many stayed to seek their fortune. By 1820, with its boundaries on the way to being defined, the population of the city increased by 35% to 62,738, with the Free black population nearly doubling to 10,324, and the slave population declining slightly to 4,359.

[Poppleton’s map] (see also:

The geography of the city and its path to expansion can be seen clearly by superimposing the map completed in 1822 by the British born and trained surveyor, Thomas Poppleton on to Google Earth. It is this map that controlled how the city grew and developed on the streets and blocks he mapped out. In fact his map with its blocks would become the basis for recording all land transactions in the City after its land records were separated from Baltimore County in the decade before the Civil War, making it the only jurisdiction in the state that kept track of property transfers geographically. By placing the map on google earth it is not only possible to see how accurate Poppleton’s surveying was, but also it provides a dramatic means of visualizing in a birdseye view of how the physical plant of the city has changed since those October days of 1816.

That opportunity in October 1816 was uneven, and limited for many in a city dominated by supporters of Thomas Jefferson and his party, goes without saying. To Jefferson, all white men were created equal and ought to be permitted to participate in the political process free of property restrictions.

Women and blacks in Baltimore were, like their counterparts elsewhere in the new nation, restrained from civil rights and from pursuing social and economic equality. To be sure Baltimore had had a dynamic postmistress and publisher of a newspaper and almanacs in Mary Katherine Goddard, who, after being ousted from her public post by the Washington Administration, supported herself as a storekeeper. She never married. Described by a contemporary as "woman of extraordinary judgment, energy, nerve and strong, good sense," she died in Baltimore in August 1816, leaving to her long-time slave Belinda Starling "all the property of which I may die possessed, all of which I do to recompense the faithful performance of duties to me,” and her freedom.

Most women in town were not as fortunate, nor as independent as Mary Katherine. Three of the Caton sisters fled Baltimore to London on their grandfather, Charles Carroll of Carrollton’s money, where they worked their way into the aristocracy and lives of leisure.

Elizabeth “Betsy” Patterson, daughter of one of the richest merchants in town tried to do likewise on her own by marrying Napoleon’s brother who had come to Baltimore. Napoleon annulled the marriage, even though they had a son, and her father disowned her, but Betsy was a shrewd business person, and invested wisely what she could squeeze out of her son’s Bonaparte relations, dying very wealthy and unmarried in 1879. In 1816 she was in Europe, having gotten a divorce by an act passed by the Maryland General Assembly. Another Elizabeth who came to Baltimore at the age of 15 with her father, a prominent physician and unheralded authority on the causes of yellow fever, did not fare as well as either Mary Katherine Goddard or Elizabeth Patterson who for a time was her friend and confidant. Born in Barbadoes, Eliza Crawford was fluent in French, and sought a paying literary career as an editor. Having been abandoned by her merchant husband in 1801, she lived with her father and daughter, editing his publications and then striking out on her own In 1806 and 1807, at the age of 26, as the founder and editor of a Baltimore publication called The Observer. It proved to be a financial failure, although she found a new husband in one of her authors, Maximilian Godefroy, a teacher of drawing at St. Mary’s seminary, and a promising architect who would create the Monument to those who successfully fought the battle of Baltimore in 1814, design the first major textile mill (Union Mills) that signaled an important aspect of Baltimore’s manufacturing future, and oversee design and construction of two churches and a bank.

In 1816 their joint future seemed bright with one particular commission in the making that October that would establish him without question as an accomplished architect.

Sadly the downturn in the economy that affected all America between 1817 and 1824, but especially the most adventuresome of the Baltimore men of business, meant the drying up of commissions. Eliza, Maximilian, and her daughter would leave Baltimore for London that frightening summer of 1819, never to return. The daughter would die of yellow fever before the departing ship reached the mouth of the Bay, and be buried on shore in an unmarked grave. Eliza would spend the rest of her life promoting her husband and seeking support from her husband’s acquaintances, including a former student at St. Mary’s Seminary who would be responsible for preserving much of the surviving written record and drawings of his former tutor.

Thought to be Daniel Coker, a black preacher from Baltimore,

painted by a black artist from Fells Point, Joshua Johnson

Opportunities for slaves and free blacks to make money and establish themselves in Baltimore in 1816 were limited to preaching, barbering, the maritime trades, and the service industries including carting goods, undertaking and catering, although one artist, Joshua Johnson was well known and painting in 1816. In that year a black preacher from Baltimore, Daniel Coker, and his supporters were invited to attend the Philadelphia Conference, from which the national organization of the African Methodist Episcopal Church was formed. The pattern of black lives in antebellum Baltimore has been painted with a broad brush and statistically by a number of distinguished authors, but little has been written about the lives of individuals, with the exception of Frederick Douglass who came to Baltimore as a slave, worked as a caulker of ships, and escaped to freedom dressed as a sailor because black sailors were so common in the seaport cities as to be less likely to be challenged as runaway slaves.

In 1812 an attempt was made to pull a black hairdresser by the name of John Lewis back into slavery, claiming that he came as a young slave to a refugee white merchant from the slave uprising in Haiti, and had never been freed, even though he had lived free for nearly a decade, and was appreciated for his skills as a barber by a large white clientele. With good legal and community support, the attempt by a relative of Edgar Allan Poe, failed, but while the case was pending he was forced to live quietly on the same street where Douglass would live, and take a poor paying job as a caulker. By 1816 he was back in the city directories plying his trade as a barber, and either he or his namesake may have been among the first blacks in the city to vote after the adoption of the 15th amendment to the Constitution in 1870, but it was a long and difficult journey to political and economic freedom and still very far from social equality.

The mainspring of Baltimore’s trade and commerce in 1816 was the export of flour. Initial investment had come from Pennsylvania (principally from in and around York), and established planter families from Maryland such as the Carroll’s, the Ridgely’s, and the Howards, but it was soon augmented by new arrivals from New England and elsewhere, including the islands of the Caribbean where Baltimore had carried on an extensive trade, both legal and illegal, in such commodities as sugar, coffee, and silver coin shipped to Baltimore in exchange for flour, lumber, and finished European goods.

Among the most prominent and vocal of the arrivals from Boston were the newspaper publishers Benjamin Edes followed by Ebenezer French. In 1811 they established a newspaper in town dedicated to furthering the prospects of Jefferson’s political party, the Democratic-Republicans. They joined several entrepreneurial merchants from Massachusetts, already resident, including the large Williams family, all of whom were instrumental in bringing the Unitarian faith to Baltimore in 1816. The Baltimore Patriot filled its pages with ads for goods, medical cures, runaway slaves and all manner of property for sale. It announced arrivals and departures of ships. It carried the editorial banner of the Democratic-Republicans even to the extent of a duel involving its editor, and condoning mob violence that garnered an unsavory reputation for Baltimore as Mob Town.

Baltimore’s legitimate trade with the Caribbean was lucrative, as was the licensed ‘pirating’ carried on by Baltimore ships that carried letters of marque during the War of 1812. Letters of Marque were official papers signed by the President and Secretary of State of the United States that authorized American ships to capture the ships and cargoes of the enemy (as defined by Congress), and bring them back to American ports for adjudication and distribution of the income derived from the sale of the ship and its cargo. During the war Americans captured over 4,000 vessels, a significant portion of which were taken by Baltimoreans. In 1816 the war was over, but Baltimore merchants and ship captains successfully sought letters of marque and reprisal from the rebels in South America who were attempting to overthrow Spanish rule. One such prominent Baltimore Captain was Joseph Almeida who had emigrated from the Swedish island of St. Bartholomew, and settled his family in Fells Point. He got his ‘license’ to continue raiding Spanish shipping (especially those carrying silver bullion and coin) from the Argentine rebel government. He was so successful in sending large shipments of coin (specie) back to Baltimore that when he returned in 1819 he was placed under arrest at the urging of the Spanish government. As his great-great-granddaughter explained it in 1991:

Upon returning to Baltimore in mid-April 1819, Almeida was arrested by the authority of the state of Maryland at the urging of the Spanish consul on a charge of piracy for capturing property of subjects of the King of Spain. He was soon released when the Judges of Baltimore County court decided that the case was not under their jurisdiction. He was then arrested on the same charge by authority of the United States and held for bail. He was tried May 8th in Federal Court and, after full consideration of the treaty between the United States and Spain, a clause of which was the basis for the indictment,

the court directed that Almeida be discharged.

In the course of his troubles with Spain he appealed to Secretary of State John Quincy Adams who described him as “a rough, open-looking, jovial Jack Tar, who can neither write nor read.” He could also barely speak English. His native tongue was Portuguese, but despite his language difficulties and prolonged absences, he provided for his family in Baltimore. His adventuresome career did not end well, however, and the family fortune was dissipated in an effort to save him. He was captured by the Spanish in 1831, and after nearly a year in which his family and friends unsuccessfully sought his release, he was executed by a firing squad in Puerto Rico in 1832. Further tragedy plagued his family, including a poisoning by one of the Baltimore household slaves who in turn was executed, and for whom the family was compensated $60 by the State for their loss of property. The only located surviving child of Captain Almeida was William who moved to St. Louis and whose descendant lived to write the family’s history. As to the tens of thousands of silver dollars that Captain Almeida deposited in a Fells Point bank, there is no record of what happened to it, although the bank seems to have survived the panic of 1819 because it had enough specie on hand to pay its depositors

St. Bartholomew Island in the Leeward Islands, published by Fielding Lucas, Baltimore

Another adventurer from the Swedish Island of St. Bartholomew who emigrated to Baltimore about 1815 was John Franklin Gibney. He may have been a factor/merchant representative for the McKim family in St. Bartholomew prior to and during the War of 1812, having gone there from Norfolk, Virginia, apparently fleeing a suit for debt. He married a widow Cochran and brought her with him to Baltimore where she died in 1816. Apparently Gibney brought some of his wife’s family money with him, which her daughter by her first marriage to Mr. Cochran attempted to retrieve.

That was the least of his worries. John Franklin Gibney woefully overextended himself. He invested his (and his wife’s) money in Baltimore real estate just at a time when the market peaked. By 1821 he was bankrupt and the last that can be found of him is as a pedlar of curative medicines in 1837, the year of the second great panic or depression to hit Baltimore, and the year in which his third wife, Louisa Gibney, formerly Miss Sharp of Baltimore, died in Maracaibo, Venezuela.

By late August of 1815 John Franklin Gibney was forced to offer his new house at auction, although he had not yet finished his property buying splurge. The house appeared to be truly elegant. It was on North Charles. “built by Mr. Kimmil and considerably enlarged and improved by F. I. Mitchel, esquire, and lately completed in the best and most expensive and elegant manner by the present proprietor…” It contained “an octagon staircase, a furnished basement, and a wonder of a kitchen ‘replete with every convenience, having the hydrant, rumford roaster, steam machine and stew holes, and large cellar under the whole, paved with brick.” The sale included elegant furnishings among which was a London made organ, three barrels, plays 50 tunes.

Still he was not finished with investing in property. In November 1815, for $15,000 he bought a dance hall on south Charles built in 1811 by a consortium comprised of John Hollins, James Mosher, the architect Robert Cary Long, Hezekiah Price, Robert Watson, and Dancing instructor Francis D. Mallet. Francis Mallet apparently recruited the investors advertising for subscribers in June of 1811 noting that he had contracted with Robert Carey Long and Mr. James Mosher to construct the building which was to be at 24 South Charles Street (by today’s numbering, 20 South Charles Street). That same month he insured it with the Baltimore Equitable Society for $12,000 at 1½% per annum and made it his dwelling house as well as his business.

The insurance policy graphically describes the building

fronting on the west side of Charles street near the south side of Baltimore Street [there was an alley in between that would become German, now Redwood, street], forty one feet three inches, covering an alley of thirteen feet three inches, being two high stories including brick stairway adjoining the back part thereof sixteen feet by thirteen feet three uncommon high stories, the stories elegantly furnished, also three story brick building adjoining to the west end of Stairway, nineteen feet six inches long & sixteen feet six inches wide having kitchen underneath the whole plain finished, having firewalls, [all protected for $162 a year]

The policy notes that it was transferred to Charles G. Boehm who in 1818 acquired the property for $13,250, $12,000 of which Gibney immediately transferred to Luke Tiernan who had advanced him $12,000 of the original purchase price of $15,000. Boehm would lease the building to another prominent dancing master, A. H. Durocher who continued teaching dancing, and hosting balls and concerts at that location until the 1850s. Durocher is perhaps best known for composing a March and Quick Step in honor of General and Future President Zachary Taylor for his accomplishments in the War against Mexico.

In his valedictory volume, a traveler’s guide to Baltimore’s landmarks, the departing French cartographer and engineer, Charles Varle summed up the history of the building to 1833:

Concert Hall and Dancing Academy

A neat convenient house was built about 20 years ago in south Charles Street by a joint stock association for a dancing academy and was occupied as such for some time. An Harmonic society being in want of a saloon for musical performances, this hall was rented to them, and hence took the name of Concert Hall. The Athenaeum however having furnished to the amateurs of harmony, a room of more appropriate construction, the concerts have since been held there, and the Hall has resumed its original purpose and is now occupied by the celebrated Mr.Durocher,where his dancing Academy is kept and cotillion parties given.

In October 1816, John Franklin Gibney still owned the Dance Hall, and was anxiously looking for tenants as Dancing Master Mallet had moved to new quarters near the theater on Holliday Street, where the Famous Mr.Cooper was to play Hamlet Saturday night, October 19, 1816, and where the Peale Museum was ablaze with the first gaslights in the city.

To what probably was his great relief, Gibney received a booking for his great three story hall for two weekends in October, 1816. The celebrated Unitarian preacher, the Reverend Doctor James Freeman, pastor of Boston’s King’s Chapel was arriving to preach, and help raise money, invited by a prominent group of citizens who expected to build a Unitarian Church of their own at the corner of North Charles and Franklin. Dr. Freeman was scheduled to speak at Gibney’s Dance Hall on Sunday, October 13, and again on Sunday, October 20, at 11 a.m. and half past three. He had come to Baltimore on a fleeting visit, not long after presiding over the September 10 wedding of the daughter of Thomas Bartlett, and returned by way of Philadelphia to Boston to officiate at the wedding of former Vice President Elbridge Gerry’s daughter on November 16.

His role while in Baltimore was to whip up enthusiasm for the building of a new church that would accommodate those who generally adhered to Thomas Jefferson’s explanation of his Christianity. Nearing the end of his life, Jefferson would write a letter to his friend and Unitarian Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse in response to a Waterhouse’s attack on the use of tobacco and wine.

You will find it as difficult to inculcate these sanative precepts [meaning conducive to physical or spiritual health and well-being] on the sensualities of the present day, as to convince an Athanasian [who believes in the trinity] that there is but one God. I wish success to both attempts, and am happy to learn from you that the latter, at least is making progress….[Jefferson like good wine which he purchased from a merchant in Baltimore named Gustier of Bartlett and Gustier fame].

Jefferson went on to outline his own creed, declaiming that he rejoiced

That this blessed country of free inquiry and belief, which has surrendered its creed and conscience to neither kings nor priests, the genuine doctrine of one only God is reviving, and I trust that there is not a young man now living in the United States who will not die an Unitarian.

suffer no speculative differences of opinion any more than of feature, to impair the love of their brethren. Be this the wisdom of Unitarians, this the holy mantle which shall cover within its charitable circumference all who believe in one God, and who love their neighbor!

What the Reverend Doctor Freeman actually said on those four occasions when he preached in
Gibney’s Dance Hall those two weekends in October 1816 is not known for certain, but it certainly must have been effective.

One distinct possibility is Freeman’s sermon published anonymously in 1829 entitled “We walk by faith, and not by sight” (Cor. 5:7). An annotated copy of “Eighteen Sermons and a Charge” in the New York Public Library declares him to be the author.

It would have been suitable to a new untested audience and contained some admonitions that his audience would have done well to have heeded.

In this chapter [of Corinthians] the Apostle [Paul] is treating of the immortality of man. With great confidence, he expresses his hope of a future state of happiness. Nevertheless, he adds, we walk by faith, and not by sight. That is, this immortality is not a matter of knowledge, but of belief. We cannot demonstrate it, though we are firmly persuaded of its truth. The assertion of the Apostle is not applicable to a future state only; but in almost all the doctrines of revealed religion, we walk by faith and not by sight. Absolute knowledge, in few cases, is granted to us; what we believe may be probable, but it is not certain; for here we see through a glass darkly, and know in part. In a future world we hope to enjoy perfect knowledge; but the present world is in some measure a scene of obscurity.

As a consideration of this subject is adapted to make us cautious, humble, and candid, it deserves attention. At the same time, it is of importance to show that the prejudices, which are entertained against religion on this account, are ill-founded; for if we walk by faith in religion, we are guided by the same light in almost everything else. We ought not therefore to object against revelation because it cannot be demonstrated, for demonstration is not afforded us in other subjects.

Historians would also do well to heed Dr. Freeman’s advice. It is impossible to know the past, we can only surmise based upon as much reading and digging through the surviving evidence as we can. As Dr. Freeman concluded with regard to the doctrines of religions so also it applies to our interpretation of the past:

Faith ... is the light by which we must guide our steps in the doctrines of religion, yet the duties of it are clear and certain. Whether our own opinions of Christianity are true or false, it is our duty to be pious and virtuous, to practise the precepts which are contained in the gospel. These precepts are agreeable to nature and reason, and must be true, whatever our speculative system may be. Christianity, which teaches them, is supported by innumerable probable arguments. Let them who deny this assertion examine the subject with care. In every step which they take, they will find proofs accumulating upon them, which they cannot easily resist; and they should acknowledge that it is not less absurd to neglect their moral conduct, because they cannot demonstrate by irrefragable arguments a future state of rewards and punishments, than it is to neglect exertion in any other case, because they cannot positively answer for the success of their plans. Uncertain as events may be, sufficient motives present themselves to induce us to be virtuous; and if we refuse to attend to them, it cannot be allowed that we act with wisdom.

His audience must have liked what they heard. The money was raised through subscription. An architect, Maximilian Godefroy was selected and the following June 5, 1817, the cornerstone for the new church was laid. According to a newspaper report:

It is to be denominated the “First Independent Church in Baltimore;” and is building under the superintendance of messrs. Henry payson, Ezekiel Freeman, C. D. Williams, Tobias Watkin, Charles H,. Appleton, Nath. Williams, Wm. Child, James W. McCulloh, John H. Poor and Isaac Phillips. On a brass plate, deposited in the stone, is this inscription

“There is one GOD, and One Mediator, between God and Men; the man Christ Jesus.” 1Tim. 2, 5”

George Williams, merchant, director of the Second Bank of the United States, and member of the new Independent Church of Baltimore

The Williams’s especially church members and brothers Amos and young George, along with church treasurer James W. McCulloh would have done well to have heeded the advice of Doctor Freeman to walk humbly and virtuously. As Dr. Freeman put it, probably at Gibney’s dance hall in October 1816,

Uncertain as events may be, sufficient motives present themselves to induce us to be virtuous; and if we refuse to attend to them, it cannot be allowed that we act with wisdom.

In 1815 and 16, George Williams and his Clerk, James W. McCulloh concocted a scheme to make themselves and their family rich, or so it seemed. George and James secured the signatures of over three thousand individuals who agreed to buy one share each of stock in the Second Bank of the United States for which they were paid pennies for the use of their names. In turn George Williams and James W. McCulloh offered to act as security for the signatories, and to provide the payment for each share by borrowing the cost of the shares from the bank on their promise to pay. George was given their power of attorney, and with it, voted himself in as a director. No money actually changed hands (except the pennies for the use of the names) and there was no regulatory agency looking over their shoulders. In fact a tinsmith by the name of John James and James W. McCulloh who moved from George Williams’s counting house to be Cashier at the Bank, successfully sued the State of Maryland over the State’s attempt to tax the paper money issued by the Bank, a suit that went all the way to the Supreme court before Chief Justice Marshall decided in favor of the Bank. Meanwhile, George and James continued their stock jobbing. At first the value of the Stock rose, in part because on the books so many people were buying it, but then came the crop failures of the summer of 1816, caused by drastic change in the weather caused by a volcanic eruption in what is today Indonesia, the calling in of loans for the purchase of western lands that farmers could no longer afford, the dumping of European goods on the American market for which the public no longer had the means to purchase, and the calling in of the loans by European bankers that financed the purchase of Louisiana. By 1825 it was reported to Congress that George and James still owed $1,207,332.08 to the bank, dragging down U. S. Senator Samuel Smith who partnered with them into bankruptcy. By then Amos Williams was also bankrupt and had lost the elegant house that he owned and George occupied on what is now the site of Mercy Hospital on Calvert Street. Curiously neither George nor James was convicted of wrongdoing despite the objections of one of the judges on a three judge panel that reviewed the thousand of pages of testimony and documentation provided by General and Senator Robert Goodloe Harper. Their speculations were deemed an honest mistake, if poor judgment. Amos died in obscurity. George continued as a commission merchant dealing with customers on the Eastern Shore, and managing the family property of Savage Mills.

After the first major bubble of economic expansion in Baltimore burst in the banking scandal of 1819, Betsy Patterson Bonaparte, the daughter of one of the wealthiest merchants in Baltimore and the rejected bride of Napoleon’s brother, wrote her own brother her view of why the high fliers of commerce and banking were ruined.


[To quote Betsy, one merchant] by this tragical event, [has] been severely punished for the folly which led him to build and furnish with regal magnificence a palace. I am sorry to express my conviction that General Smith’s fine house, and the extravagant mode of living he introduced into Baltimore caused the ruin of half the people in the place, who, without this example, would have been contented to live in habitations better suited to their fortunes; and certainly they only made themselves ridiculous by aping expenses little suited to a community of people of business. It is to be hoped that in [the] future there will be no palaces constructed, as there appears to be a fatality attending their owners, beginning with Robert Morris and ending with Lem. Taylor. I do not recall a single instance, except that of [William] Bingham, of any one who built one in America, not dying a bankrupt.[Elizabeth Patterson to William Patterson, May 22, 1823, as published in Eugene L. Dider, The Life and Letters of Madame Bonaparte (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1879), 142, courtesy of Lance Humphries]

That the city would recover from the financial debacle caused in large measure by its own entrepreneurial merchants, was never in doubt for long. Even some the perpetrators survived to fame and fortune. James W. Mcculloh even became the U. S. Comptroller of the Treasury and lived to a ripe old age in New Jersey.

But the expansion of the city following the streets that Thomas Poppleton delineated on his map, published in 1822, would challenge the character and location of its maritime trade. The strange weather of 1816 and 1817, including the 10 inches of rain in August 1817 would wash vast quantities of mud and debris into the harbor at Fells point, wiping out its only freshwater supply above Fountain Street, and silting up wharves to the point of exasperation of its wharf owners. A court suit followed against the city that made its way to the Supreme Court. There two Fells Point wharf owners, Craig and Barron, lost, which meant that the City would not reimburse them for digging out the silt surrounding their wharves with a mud machine. Instead they leased their once busy commodity wharf to a ship builder who built one of the largest sailing ships ever launched in Baltimore only to find that he had to pay for the Mud Machine to dig out the silt in front the wharf so that the ship could sail to its new owner, the emperor of Brazil.

In October of 1816 Baltimore was an urban frontier of great promise. A significant core of its merchant elite looked forward to greater wealth based upon speculative ventures of uncertain outcome and daring such as bank stock kiting and exploiting revolutions in Mexico, Central, and South America. At the same time a number of the most adventuresome in Baltimore turned from the established religions of their city to a more independent approach to the teachings of Jesus Christ, an approach that challenged his divinity and stressed the virtues of his humanity, while in their business lives, they faltered in following his precepts, setting examples of business behavior that future generations of Americans would strive to emulate.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Obituaries for Laurel: Artist and Laundress Charity Goviens (1820?-1878)

Obituaries for Laurel

Charity (Bayly) Goviens/Govans (1820?-1878), Chenille Artist and Laundress of Old Town, Baltimore

On October 28th, 1878, Charity (Bayly) Goviens/Govans died at her long-time residence on Aisquith Street in Baltimore at the age of 58.[1] Her occupation is listed on the death certificate as “keeper of her own house”, and the cause of death appoplexis.[2] She was attended by George W. Wayson, M.D., who lived at 18 Aisquith Street, and prepared for burial by undertaker Theo J. Locke of 73 Jefferson Street, also close by. She was buried in Laurel Cemetery.[3]

Charity had resided in Baltimore for at least 38 years, over half of which time she lived at 133/609 Aisquith Street. She and her daughter Charity remained proud of the spelling of her husband Daniel’s actual last name, Goviens, while the directories and the census takers persistently corrupted it to “Govans” or some other variation.

1876 Tax Assessment on Charity Goviens/Govan’s 3 story brick residence and lot

next door to the Aisquith Presbyterian Church property. In 1876 her next door neighbor at the parsonage

was Reverend Stephen Noyes, pastor of the Church. With the renumbering of houses in Baltimore City in the late 1880s, 133 became 609 Aisquith Street and by 1880, the Aisquith Presbyterian Church had moved from the neighborhood to be replaced in the same building by Ohel Yakov Synagogue.[4]

Recently Charity has been the subject of a few references in a book by Martha Jones, Birthright Citizens, in which Charity’s efforts to obtain a travel pass in the 1850s under the restrictive laws of Maryland is featured. While the efforts to identify Charity from the surviving records were extensive and accurately cited in Dr. Jones’s footnotes, the image of Charity and the story of her life that emerges from Dr. Jones’s pages is incomplete and misleading. Despite the oppressive and discriminating world of Baltimore, she and her husband prospered. She was more than a gilder of frames and a laundress for the more affluent white population of Baltimore. She was an accomplished Chenille embroidery artist and possibly an important connection to the underground railroad to Canada, the destination for which she applied for, and was granted a travel pass by the Criminal Court judge of Baltimore City, Henry Stump, about the time of her return from Canada. It is likely that she went to Canada without a pass issued by the Court, but knew that to be able to return in safety she would need one. On June 26, 1854, on the written recommendation of David Stewart, John Stewart, and James A. Buchanan, Esq., Judge Stump retroactively approved her travel out of the State of Maryland for the space of three months.[5]

Charity Govien’s maiden name was Bayley, and by 1840 she was married to Daniel Goviens, a Free Black owner and the proprietor of a feed store on North Gay Street who was several years her senior. An indicator of Daniel’s wealth is to be found in 1845 when their home was robbed:

Baltimore Sun, February 17, 1845

Daniel Goviens first appears on the Baltimore City tax lists in 1813 on North Gay Street between Potter and Exerter Streets, in the two story brick dwelling with a feed store and granary where he and Charity were living by 1840.[6] Their daughter Charity was born about 1842.[7] There is no record of their having any other children, although Daniel did have Goviens relatives who he provided for in a deed of Trust intended to protect Charity’s interest in their home and store.[8]

Charity first appears by name in print and on public record in 1851 when her delicate Chenille work was rejected by the Maryland Institute, not on the grounds of quality, but because it “was done by a colored woman.” the judges praised the quality of her work noting that

In the first place, we do not deem it advisable to receive contributions to the exhibitions of the maryland Institute from colored persons, because of their work is accepted they will have to be received as visitors to the fairs.

Secondly , we do not approve of their work entering into competition with that of the whites.

And thirdly, the colored population have fairs of their own where they can exhibit the productions of their industry.[9]

Charity took her art work to Toronto, Canada, in 1853, where it was favorably received, and reported to Frederick Douglass’s Rochester, New York newspaper:

TORONTO, August 12, 1853.

DEAR Mr. EDITOR: - Not long since, I saw in this city, in a large, splendid guilt frame, a piece of fanciful workmanship, which has been the admiration of all who have seen it. It was the work of Mrs. Charity Govans , recently of Baltimore. This lady was by the very general invitation of the managers of the Maryland Institute, to "all engaged in industrial pursuits not only in Baltimore, and the state if Maryland, but throughout the United States, to contribute specimens of their productions for public inspection, and to compete for the prizes offered by the Institute," induced to contribute the unsurpassingly beautiful production of her skill, ingenuity and taste, if which we have spoken. This work was one of so much merit and attraction, that it was generally anticipated that the artificer would be most signally rewarded. How signally, however, you will be better prepared to learn, after you shall have read the following notice and rule extracted from the printed "regulations and arrangements for the fourth annual exhibition of American Manufactures, by the Maryland Institute, held in Baltimore, October, 1851, and signed by the chairman and standing committee on exhibition: "The particular attention of contributors and others is requested to these rules, ad they will in all cases, be adhered to and enforced." - Rule "15th. The judges are required to make their decision strictly upon the merits of the article alone, and to make full reports in writing to the "Committee of Awards, &c."

Accordingly, we have [a] sufficiently "full report, in writing," as it regards Mrs. Govan' s work. I have copied it from the published reports for the edification of your numerous readers-

"No. 1356 - A framed of CHENILLE FLOWERS, made by Mrs. C. Govans , is tastefully designed, ingeniously and accurately arranged. But the committee on Class 15 are unwilling to recommend this price of work for merited. First, because, it was done by a colored woman. In the second place, we do not deem it advisable to receive contributions to the exhibitions of the Maryland Institute from colored persons, because if their work is accepted, the will have to be received by visitors to the fairs. And thirdly, the colored population have fairs of their own, where they can exhibit the productions of their industry. Having given our opinion at length concerning Mrs. Govan' s work, we leave it with the Committee on Premiums to decide whether they think proper to give a premium for it. We would respectfully advise the Managers of the Institute if they wish to preserve their exhibition in good repute, and prevent dissatisfaction on the part of whites and blacks, to decline the acceptance of colored persons' work at all subsequent exhibitions."





The Committee are unwilling to recommend this piece of work for a premium, because it was done by a colored woman. The reason here given for this magnanimous treatment is indicative of a littleness, dwarfish caliber and ineffable meanness soul, which in despite of the copiousness of our language, and its adaptedness to the expression of every shade of thought and sentiment, it is exceedingly difficult to describe in terms sufficiently appropriate. Look at it: We are unwilling to discharge an obviously assigned duty, a simple act of Justice to a lady of intelligence, wealth and standing, because she is a colored woman. The singular frankness - not to say shameless - of an avowal of a reason so despicable, and that by ladies whose self respect permitted them to give their names to the scrutinizing gaze of the world in such a connection, its a mournful evidence of the full influence of those Institutions and prejudices in the United States, which deteriorates and destroys all that is lively and liberal, just and humane, in the human character. These ladies, and all whose feelings are equally groveling, should receive the pity of the truly wise and excellent of the earth, to throw intrinsic nobility they are strangers, and whose good opinion they are incapable of appreciating. We pity them, because we cannot deny them. Again; "if their work is accepted, they will have to be received as visitors to the fairs." A horrible consequence truly! They will then be in the same room with ourselves, walk the same floor, and gaze upon the same objects. Intolerable! Well, one thing is certain and inevitable; either the fastidious taste of these ladies will have to undergo a seasonable and serious change, or they will be unable to enter the kingdom go God with many of these despised ones; for "there shall, in now wise, enter into it anything that defileth;" their vitiated taste will exclude them. Are they prepared for the stern, the unavoidable alternative? These considerations, however, weigh but little in these days of fashionable, time serving Christianity. But we must not forget that colored persons are not excluded from these fairs, if they willingly accompany white visitors as servants. Special provisions is made for all such. The green eyed monster cannot brook the sight of a colored gentleman or lady, whose condition is above that of a servant. - Let him not be alarmed when I tell him that such sights will become increasingly annoying, and they are destined to put the severest test the religion and philosophy of the American Union. He would do well to make a virtue of necessity. "Thirdly, the colored population have fairs of their own, where they can exhibit the productions of their industry." True, but they would no longer remain in comparative obscurity; they would occasionally place some of the productions of their skill in just a position, I and in competition with those of their paler brethren. Speak out, ladies, all you objections - your worst fears in regard to such a competition. Remember, we have given you credit for your frankness. "We would respectfully advise the Managers of the Institute if they wish to preserve their exhibitions in good repute, and prevent dissatisfaction on the part of both whites and blacks, to decline the acceptance of colored person's work at all subsequent exhibitions." - Thank you ladies, we think we understand you. You mean to say that if colored competitors should be successful, as was Mrs. Govans , in winning admiration, and deserving highest premiums - of which there would be a great probability - then the Institute would suffer in it reputation; and dissatisfaction on the part of unsuccessful competitors as among the whites, would be as inevitable as it would be with the successful rivals among the blacks to whom your silly prejudices would render you incapable of doing Justice. In view of this unpleasant state of things, I thank God that I am no more an inhabitant of your country - my native land - but that it is my privilege to rejoice that I am now,


At the time of the exhibition at the Maryland Institute and her travel to Canada where there was a large expatriate former slave community from Maryland, Charity was living on North Gay Street in Baltimore on the East side of the Jones Falls, with her husband Daniel, who is listed in the 1849/50 Baltimore city Directory at 161 North Gay Street.[11]

While there is no record of when she actually returned from Canada, she was resident on Aisquith Street for certain by 1854, and probably had come back in late 1853 or early 1854 after her husband dissolved the trust he had established to protect her interest in their home on North Gay Street. It would appear that Daniel used the proceeds of the sale of their North Gay Street home to build her a new home at 133/609 Aisquith.

Why Charity journeyed to Toronto and then returned is not known, but with the passage of the Fugitive Slave act of 1850, life for Free Blacks in Baltimore became increasingly difficult, and at any moment slave catchers might snatch those who thought they were free back into slavery.

The Sun (1837-1994); Baltimore, Md. [Baltimore, Md]07 Jan 1850: 4

Baltimore was the epicenter of the Domestic Slave Trade to New Orleans. Demand for slaves was high and advertisements of Cash for Slaves appeared with regularity in the Baltimore press. It is possible that Charity was only living as free and that she had fled to Toronto, leaving her husband to find the means to buy her freedom. Or perhaps he planned on following her and became ill, causing her to return to a city that was increasingly distrustful and suspicious of the ‘free’ Blacks within its midst and whose slave owners would actively pursue those slaves that dained to flee to what they hoped would be a more hospitable place.

Rare Books and Manuscripts Library, Columbia University

James Hamlet, the first person returned to slavery under the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, in front of city hall in New York; engraving from the National Anti-Slavery Standard, October 17, 1850. Hamlet was returned by force to Baltimore, but ‘by the time this appeared in print,’ Eric Foner writes in Gateway to Freedom, ‘New Yorkers had raised the money to purchase Hamlet’s freedom and he was back in the city.’ [source:]

It is well known that the very first case of a fugitive slave captured and hailed before the new commissioners created by the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law was James Hamlet from Baltimore, claimed by the mother-in-law of a clerk at the shot tower, Thomas J. Clare, who was also the Treasurer of the Maryland Institute. He collected the $800 that was raised in New York to free Hamlet from his mother-in-law, Mary Brown, who resided with the Clare’s, a sum sufficient it would seem to help purchase or rent a new home on Hollins Street extended.[12]

Whether or not Charity sought safety in Toronto, she returned to Baltimore a free woman of means. Beginning in 1853 and until her death in 1878, Charity was taxed for a three story brick building on North Aisquith Street, initially numbered 131, then 133, and finally, after 1886, 609.

[detail, 1914 Topographical Survey of Baltimore]

After Charity’s death in 1878 the house number on Aisquith Street was changed to 609. By the 1960s

the front of the building was a laundromat, and by the 1970s a vacant lot approximately where the white car beyond the church is parked. Charity’s house is shown on the detail from the 1880 Sanborn Insurance map with the store front of the building rented by a tinsmith and plumber. By 1914 the Church was synagogue as shown on the 1914 topographical survey..

Charity lived two doors down from the all white Aisquith Presbyterian Church, which is today Greater Grace Harvest Church.[13] She may have attended Bethel or Waters AME church, which was nearby, but her son-in-law, Burwell Banks, who lived with her for a time in the 1860s and early 1870s, was a long-time vestryman of St. James Episcopal Church.[14] Charity’s home survived until the 1970s serving in its last years a laundromat, somewhat fitting, as in her last years her occupation was listed as a “laundress.”[15]

Composite from Google Earth images, captured 2019/11/18 indicating the site of Charity Govien’s house and the Wells & McComas monument at the end of her street, erected in 1873, five years before Charity’s death[16]

Today the site of Charity’s house is a vacant lot, a casualty of the failed urban-renewal development of Old Town.[17]

After her return from Canada, Charity lived a quiet life of domestic service. In the one public notice of her that appeared in the Christian Recorder October 10, 1863, she was mentioned as the wealthy mother of an “accomplished daughter” also named Charity who was about to be wed to a “Mr. Bromwell [Burwell] Banks,” a wealthy Baltimore grocery “Provisioner” who supplied the fashionable hotels of Baltimore including the Rennert, and who owned considerable real estate in the city.[18]

In 1870, while Burwell Banks and his wife, Charity Govan’s daughter, Charity, were living at 133 Aisquith, Catherine Labeat (age 60), ten years older than Charity Govan, was resident there as well. Who Catherine Lebeat was, is unknown, but she might have been Charity’s teacher of Chenille work, and possibly an Oblate Sister whose order was well-known in Ante-bellum Baltimore for training Black girls in Chenille and expert needle work. [19]

In the same Christian Recorder article recording the prospective marriage of Charity’s daughter, it was observed that “Our city has been in a state of joyful excitement for several days or weeks past. The first outburst of joy was caused by the military authority opening the slave pens and letting all the slaves go free. The men all went out and joined the regiment, and the women found comfortable homes among the friends in the city.”[20] Perhaps Charity took in some of the women at 133 Aisquith?

It would be a very long time before full citizenship came to the Black Community of Baltimore, and it would not be until the 1930s that the Maryland Institute would exhibit the work of Black artists like Charity Govans,and even then it would be controversial.

Among the Black Artists in the exhibition were

Cartoonists Elmer Simms Campbell and

William Chase of possible Maryland descent, but no Black women [21]

By all public accounts, Charity was among the wealthiest of the Black community of Baltimore by the time of her death. In 1870 she was noted on the Census as possessing $8,000 in real estate, while her son-in-law (Burwell Banks) who in 1870 lived with her at 133 Aisquith, and owned a prosperous produce business, was credited with $15,000 in real estate and $1500 in personal property. When she died in 1878 she left an inventory of personal property worth

nearly $1400, including $54 in cash in the house and $1200 in a bank account.[22] Among her

personal effects, apart from a feather bed, a horsehair couch, lace curtains, a table, 13 chairs and a sideboard, were two pieces of “framed embroidery,” perhaps the very same Chenille work that was rejected by the Maryland Institute and carried with her to and from Canada?[23]

When Charity Goviens died, her examples of Chenille work passed to her daughter Charity Goviens Banks, along with the house and storefront and the rest of her mother’s property, which in turn were left to Burwell Banks:

Excerpt from Charity Goviens Banks will probated in 1886, leaving her mother’s framed

Chenille work and the house to her husband, Burwell Banks[24]

Sadly neither Charity Goviens, nor her daughter and son-in-law, would be permitted to rest in peace, memorialized in Laurel Cemetery where they were all laid to rest. Their remains may still be there under the blacktop of the shopping center, moved and covered over by bulldozers that desecrated the graves.[25]

Revised by Ecpclio, 2019/11/18

[1] Death certificate, Msa_cm1132_010_cr048054-28377. Sorting out the Charity Govans who appear in the public records and the city directories of Baltimore is a daunting task. The ages on the census records are unreliable estimates, and the city directories are far from complete or accurate, but the surviving documentation strongly suggests that the Charity who was denied the right to exhibit her work at the Maryland Institute, was living on North Gay Street with Daniel Goven (Goviens) in 1840 as a free woman without children, was living on Aisquith Street as early as 1854 in a house on which she paid taxes, with a daughter also named Charity who married Burwell Banks in 1863, and that she died in her home at 133 (later renumbered to 609) Aisquith Street in October 1878. Her death certificate asserts she was 85 at her death, but all the other evidence of her existence indicates that the number is reversed, and that she was instead ca. 58 when she died.

[2] Appoplexis uteri apparently was a medical term described briefly in the Journal of Obstetrics, volume 58, for 1908, p. 752, as meaning hemorrhaging of the uterus.

[4] Baltimore City Archives, Baltimore City Property Tax Records, field Assessors’ Work Books, BCA BRG 4-3,

[5] Jones, Martha S. Birthright Citizens. A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018, pp. 98, 99, 100, 101. Professor Jones and her research assistants did discover many of the sources about Charity as cited in this essay, but failed to interpret them correctly, or overlooked their significance. Professor Jone’s Charity was only four years old in 1854. Charity Govans, the subject of this esssay, always lived on the East Side of the Jones Falls, not the West, while Professor Jones misses altogether the reasons for seeking a travel pass, as well as Charity’s considerable talent as a Chenille artist. For the travel pass, see: BALTIMORE CITY CRIMINAL COURT (Minutes) 1851-1971 T483-1, unnumbered folio at 1854, January 26. Buchanan and the Stewarts were prominent white members of the Baltimore legal and mercantile Community and can be found in the Baltimore City directory for 1851. Their connection with Charity is unknown.

[6] See: Goodson, Noreen J., and Donna Tyler Hollie. Through the Tax Assessor's Eyes: Enslaved People, Free Blacks and Slaveholders in Early Nineteenth Century Baltimore. 2017, pp. 66, 197, and the Baltimore Census for 1840.

[7] See 1870 census for Baltimore City where Charity Banks is listed as age 28.

[8] 1845, Baltimore County Land Records, TK348, ff. 551.

[9] The book of the exhibition. Annual exhibition of the Maryland Institute for the Promotion of the mechanic arts. Baltimore. Maryland Institute for the Promotion of the Mechanic Arts.Baltimore, 1852.

[10] See:,

Collection: African American Newspapers, Publication: FREDERICK DOUGLASS PAPER, Date: August 26, 1853,Title: TORONTO, August 12, 1853. DEAR Mr. EDITOR: - Not long since,...Location: Rochester, New York.

[11] 1840; Census Place: Baltimore Ward 3, Baltimore, Maryland; Roll: 158; Page: 102; Family History Library Film: 0013183, and 1849/50 Baltimore City Directory. Daniel does not appear in the 1851 Baltimore City Directory, nor does Charity. Charity first appears on her own in the addenda to the tax list for 1853/54, living at 133/609 Aisquith Street. Probate records for Daniel could not be located and, as he placed all his assets in recorded trusts for the benefit of his family, it is likely the property at 133/609 Aisquith passed to Charity without there being a surviving chattel, land or probate record at the time. By the time of her death in 1878, there was sufficient proof of her ownership that the property passed to her daughter Charity Goviens Banks without dispute, and she in turn left it to her heirs among whom was a Calloway, perhaps related to Cab Calloway..

[12] IMPORTANT FUGITIVE SLAVE CASE: First Arrest of a Fugitive Slave under the new Act Highly Important Proceedings, and Great Excitement among the Colored People

The Sun (1837-1994); Baltimore, Md. [Baltimore, Md]30 Sep 1850: 1, and Baltimore City Directory, 1853-54. Once the price on his head was paid, James Hamlet was manumitted: Light complexion, height: 5'6.5', raised in Baltimore County, scar on left side of cheek, manumitted on October 4, 1850, Liber AWB#81, p. 19. AW Bradford, Clerk, witnessed by Thomas J. Clare. (See entry for James Hamlet at:

[14] Baltimore Church Advocate, Saturday, February 13, 1892.

[15] Hellier Business Directory, 1863/64, Laundress living at 133 Aisquith.

[16] How Charity acquired 133 (609 Aisquith) is a complicated story of Daniel’s efforts to ensure that she was provided for through a number of recorded trusts that ensured Charity benefited from his real and personal property at the time of his death. For example see: Baltimore County Land Records, TK 348, ff.551-552. It appears as if Daniel revoked this trust and a subsequent one in order to sell their North Gay Street home and his business there for $7,000 in 1852 (see Baltimore County Land Records, ED 24, ff. 168), with which he probably built the three story brick home on Aisquith sometime in 1853. Daniel was taxed for the Aisquith street property as early as 1818 when there was a two story frame building on the property, but to date no record of his purchasing the Aisquith property has been located. It would appear that Daniel died sometime between 1852 and 1855. Charity alone is first taxed for the three story storefront brick home in 1854 which had a rental storefront on Aisquith to provide her with a steady rental income. (see:, and the Baltimore City directories for the address that indicates what businesses rented the storefront). Clearly Daniel made every effort to provide for Charity and their daughter. To date no probate records have been found for Daniel, nor has a recorded trust that specifically identifies the Aisquith street property been located, yet from 1854 on until her death, Charity paid taxes on the property and it descended to her daughter Charity Goviens Banks who was the administrator of her mother’s estate. A plausible scenario is that Daniel became ill while Charity was in Toronto and Charity came home to care for him. The last mention of Daniel in the city directories is his living at 134 Chestnut according to the 1855/56 Baltimore City Directory

[17] See, Baltimore City Land Records RHB 2941/676, other references to the “Old Town” renewal project. For Burwell Banks, see below, note 11.

[18]Burwell Banks was once arrested and fined for selling Quail out of season to the owner of the Rennert Hotel. When he died in 1891 he left a considerable estate, and was remembered as one of the first Black men to serve on a Grand Jury in the city charged with investigating conditions at the City Jail. See the Baltimore Sun for July 14, 1887, and August 29, 1891, the Baltimore Church Advocate for Saturday, February 13, 1892, and the quail incident in the Baltimore Sun for January 20, 1877.

[19] To date no evidence has been found of Charity Govans having attended the school for girls founded by the oblate sisters, nor is there any surviving record found to date that illuminates the life of her boarder in 1870, Catherine Lebeat. For Charity Govan and those residing with her in 1870, including Catherine Labeat, see: 1870 Census, Ward 5, Dwelling no. 2033, with real estate owned or leased by Charity worth $8,000, on, 1870; Census Place: Baltimore Ward 5, Baltimore (Independent City), Maryland; Roll: M593_573; Page: 276B; Family History Library Film: 552072. The Oblate Sisters history in Baltimore is to be found in summary form on their website:, from which the following is derived:

The Oblate Sisters of Providence is the first successful Roman Catholic sisterhood in the world established by women of African descent. It was the work of a French-born Sulpician priest and four women, who were part of the Caribbean refugee colony which began arriving in Baltimore, Maryland in the late eighteenth century. Father James Hector Nicholas Joubert, SS, a Sulpician priest discovered it was difficult for the Haitian refugee children to master their religious studies because they were unable to read. He heard of two devout religious Caribbean women who were already conducting a school for black children in their home in Baltimore. In 1828 those two women, Elizabeth Lange (later Mother Mary Lange ) and Maria Balas accepted his proposal to start a sisterhood with the primary mission of teaching and caring for African American children. After adding two more women, Rosine Boegue and American-born Theresa Duchemin, they began studying to become sisters and opened a Catholic school for girls in their convent at 5 St. Mary's Ct. in Baltimore. Thus began St. Frances Academy. It is the oldest continuously operating school for black Catholic children in the United States and is still educating children in Baltimore.​​

[20], Collection: African American Newspapers, Publication: THE CHRISTIAN RECORDER, Date: October 10, 1863, Title: For the Christian Recorder. Our city has been in a state of ....

[21] See: and There is no biography of Chase, but the Chase family was prominent as teachers, editors, and undertakers in both Baltimore and the District of Columbia. For example see:, and

[22] See: 1870 census entry for Charity and her daughter and son-in-law: Charity’s probate is indexed at:, f. 72.

[23] BALTIMORE CITY REGISTER OF WILLS (Inventories) 1878-1879, JHB 111, MSA C196-47, 231-232.

[24] Baltimore City Will Books, 1886, RTB 56, 310 ff. Everett J. Waring was Charity Banks’s lawyer. It is not known if she and her husband, Burwell Banks, lost any money in the collapse of Waring’s Bank. See the Lexington Bank scandal at: and a biography of