Francis Scott Key’s Death Biography: Old St. Paul’s to Mount Olivet Cemetery

On January 14, 1843 three days following his death of pleurisy at the age of sixty-three, Baltimore’s Niles’ Weekly Register reported his death:

“Francis Key, Esq., late U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, died suddenly whilst on a visit to his son-n-law, Mr. Howard, of Baltimore on the 12th inst. He was a man of a very high order of talent…He was the author of the deservedly popular national song, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Key was visiting his oldest daughter Elizabeth Phobe Key Howard (1803-1897), the wife of Dr. Charles Howard (1802-1869), youngest son of Revolutionary War veteran Brigadier General John Edgar Howard (1752-1827). The site of the Howard’s home (c.1853) is where now stands the United Methodist-Episcopal Church (built 1870) at 10 East Mount Vernon Place. His father’s mansion of “Belvedere” was located further north. Following the funeral (in which no narrative is known to have survived) Key’s remains were placed in the brick vault of the Howard family in Old St. Paul’s Cemetery in Baltimore. Here he rested with his wife Mary Tayloe Lloyd Key (1784-1859) daughter of Governor Edward Lloyd of Wye House until removed to Frederick, Maryland in 1866 and buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery. In 1898 the Key Monument Association  dedicated the monument we view to day over Mr. & Mrs. Key’s grave.

“His patriotism will survive forever in his song.” Alexandria Gazette, January 14, 1843.

Published in: on February 14, 2014 at 4:24 pm  Comments (1)  

Lt. Colonel George Armistead (1780-1818): Commander, Fort McHenry

On September 13-14, 1814, in the third year of the War of 1812, this 34 year old Virginia born artillery officer ordered an American flag raised over the ramparts of Fort McHenry in Baltimore harbor following a 25-hour British naval bombardment. The flag itself inspired a Maryland lawyer to write a song that would become the U.S. national anthem on March 3, 1931.

George Armistead was born near Bowling Green in Caroline County, Virginia, on April 10, 1780, to a well-established Virginia family along the Rappahannock River. He was one of six sons and three daughters born to John and Lucinda (Baylor) Armistead.

He entered the U.S. military in 1799 and rose through the ranks, serving at Fort Niagara, New York (1801-1805); Fort Pickering, Arkansas Territory (1807-1808); and Fort McHenry, Baltimore (1809-1813), where he arrived in January 1809 as second in command. In Baltimore he wedded Louisa Hughes (1789-1861), daughter of a wealthy Baltimore silversmith. In 1812 he returned to Fort Niagara, where on May 27, 1813, he distinguished himself during the American siege of Fort Niagara by capturing the British flags. For his gallantry he was appointed a major in the Third Regiment U.S. Artillery. Armistead returned to Baltimore in June 1813, and remained until his death five years later.

Armistead’s name has been immortalized in U.S. history because of one simple act. In August 1813, he requisitioned a U.S. ensign measuring 42′ x 30′ having fifteen stars and fifteen-stripes that gave inspiration to the defenders’ of Baltimore and inspired a new national song. Ever since, he has been known as the “Guardian of the Star-Spangled Banner.”

After the bombardment, President James Madison brevetted Major Armistead to the rank of lieutenant colonel to date from September 12, 1814. Upon this promotion, Armistead remarked to his wife that “he hoped they would both live long to enjoy.” Four years later, at the age of thirty-eight, Armistead died of causes unknown and was buried with full military honors by a grateful city.

His brother-in-law Christopher Hughes Jr. (1786-1849) served as secretary to the American Peace Commission at Belgium that concluded the War of 1812 on Christmas Eve, 1814. It is Hughes who brought the Treaty of Ghent to Annapolis, then Washington for the President’s signature

Fifty years later, his soon-to-be equally famous nephew, Brigadier General Lewis Addison Armistead, C.S.A. (1817-1863) died of wounds suffered in the Confederate assault (Pickett’s Charge) at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863. Two months after the battle his remains were secretly brought to Baltimore and buried next to his famous uncle. A hero of Gettysburg lies with the hero of Fort McHenry within the grounds of Old St. Paul’s Cemetery in downtown Baltimore.

Two monuments honor Lt. Colonel George Armistead in Baltimore. The earliest, erected in 1882, stands atop historic Federal Hill overlooking Baltimore’s downtown waterfront; the other, at Fort McHenry, dedicated during the Battle for Baltimore Centennial Celebration in September 1914

Source: Guardian of The Star-Spangled Banner: Lt. Colonel George Armistead and The Fort McHenry Flag by Scott S Sheads (Baltimore: Toomey Press, 1999).

Published in: on April 14, 2011 at 5:38 pm  Comments (2)  

Old St. Paul’s Cemetery: In Memoriam of 1812 Patriarchs

“May they rest in peace in their narrow beds, covered by verdure ever fresh, and wild flowers ever blooming; and may the kindliest dew of Heaven distill upon their graves an emblem of our tears.” Niles’ Weekly Register, March 30, 1814.

Throughout Maryland are thousands of War of 1812 veteran graves and historic burying grounds yet to be found, recorded and remembered, as we begin to celebrate their achievements that gave inspiration for a new national hymn. One of the least visited, yet one of the famous burying grounds is also Baltimore’s oldest – Old St. Paul’s Cemetery of the Second Presbyterian Church in downtown Baltimore. Within its high protective stone walls are many citizen-soldiers who fought or contributed with legislature support to keeping the fire hearths burning on the home front in support of their neighbors and fellow citizens.

For nearly three years when the war raged on the bay, the voices of citizen-soldiers, the fife and drums of regimental music and company flags unfurled to the breezes continue to play no more. Herein within this sacred burying ground are the quiet voices of our past. Like those of the Revolution, they returned to their private pursuits as farmers, mariners, political and martial pursuits, until they too, passed on, leaving only their reputations and the records of their lives. Here are four notable burials:

Lt. Colonel George Armistead (1780-1818). Born in Caroline County Virginia he was one of five brothers, all of whom served in the War of 1812. In 1813 he delivered the captured British from Fort George, Upper Canada to President Madison, and subsequently commanded of Fort McHenry until his death on April 27, 1818.

Lieutenant Colonel Jacob H. Hindman, (1789-1827) A native of Centreville, Maryland served in the 2nd U.S. Artillery in 1812 and was brevetted a lieutenant colonel for his distinguished service in the defense of Fort Erie and Fort George, and at the Battle of Chippewa (July 1814) all on the Canadian frontier. Colonel Hindman died on February 17, 1827 at the age of 58 years.

Christopher Hughes, Jr. (1785-1849) A Baltimore native he commanded the Baltimore Independent Artillery in 1813 before becoming one of the U.S. peace delegates at the signing of the Treaty of Ghent on December 24, 1814, concluding the War of 1812. He was the brother-in-law of Lt. Colonel George Armistead, and died on September 18, 1849 at the age of sixty-three.

Jacob Small, Jr. (1772-1851). A former mayor of Baltimore and member of the Baltimore Mechanical Volunteers at the Battle of North Point, he designed the 1817 Aquila Randall Monument, still extant along the Old North Point Road.

“The patriarchs of the Revolution [and the War of 1812] are fast passing away: another and yet another year, and perhaps not one of those gallant spirits, who aided America in her struggle for freedom and independence, will be left to the living object of our gratitude & veneration…The Freedom achieved by their swords, and the institutions established by their wisdom, are now left in our hands.” Honorable Robert H. Goldsborough, 1827.

Sources:

Published in: on April 10, 2011 at 7:55 pm  Comments (2)  
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