Battle Acre: A Deed of Land by Dr. Jacob Houck (1792-1850) “for the purpose of erecting a Monument thereon….”

On the eve of the 25th Anniversary of the Battle of North Point, a prominent physician of medicine and purveyor of his famous “Houck’s Remedies” gave to the State of Maryland an acre of land on the battlefield for the princely sum of One Dollar. His gift today is known as Battle Acre along the North Point Road in Baltimore County.

He was born in Frederick County, the son of a prominent merchant, and came to be a graduate of the Maryland University School of Medicine. In December 1839 he purchased the land called “Swan Harbour” and soon thereafter built “one of the most splendid hotels in the vicinity,” that became known as “Houck’s Pavilion” that for years thereafter served as a prominent annual commemorative gathering site for the Old Defenders’ of Baltimore. 

The following is an extract of the deed of land to the State of Maryland.

“Know all men by these presents, that I Jacob Houck of the city and county of Baltimore in the State of Maryland am held and firmly bound unto the State of Maryland in the full and just sum of one Dollar lawful money to be paid to the said state, or to its attorney to the payment whereof. I bind myself, my heirs Executors and Administrators firmly by these presents, sealed with my seal, and dated this eleventh day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty nine.

Whereas the said Jacob Houck in consideration of the sum of one dollar to him paid at or before the sealing and delivery hereof, the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged and also delivered good causes and valuable considerations herein thereunto moving, hath contracted to give grant and convey or to cause and procure to be granted and conveyed unto the said state this or part of a tract, piece or parcel of herein after described the same constituting a part of the North Point Battle Ground “for the purpose of erecting a Monument thereon.” Now the Condition of the foregoing obligation is such, that the said Jacob Houck, or his heirs do and shall within six months next ensuing the date hereof, grant and convey, or cause and procure to be granted and conveyed to the State of Maryland aforesaid, to be held by the said State for ever, for the use and purpose aforesaid. All that Lot or parcel of Land situated and lying in Baltimore County aforesaid being part of a tract called “Swan Harbour” which is contained  within the meter and bounds, courses and distances following, that is to say; Beginning for the same part at a stone standing in the ground on the southwestern most side of the road leaving from the City of Baltimore to North Point…” [the remainder of document shows survey points of distances.]

For 75 years no monument was erected, despite the elaborated ceremonies held on September 12, 1839. A granite monument was finally dedicated in 1914 on the centennial of the battle.

Jacob Wever Houck was the father of Mrs. Ella Virginia Houck (Mrs. Reuben Ross Holloway/1862-1940) who often was described as the “number one patriot in Baltimore” who consistently advocated for the making The Star-Spangled Banner” the official national anthem and other patriotic causes. Dr. Jacob Houck, Sr. died in 1850 and is buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery in West Baltimore.

Source: Baltimore County Court (Land Records) TK 292, pp. 246-247 Jacob Houck, “Swan Harbor,” 11 September 1839 [MSA CE 66-342]. His son, not to be confused with his father, was Dr. Jacob Wever Houck, Jr. (1822-1888); The Sun, May 23, 1888.

A Flag for Fort McHenry, August 1813

SHIPS COLOURS – For all nations, private signals, military flags, etc., An elegant assortment of American Colours, of every size, made of fiort quality bunting. Apply to Mrs. R. Young, Albermarle St.”

In the summer of 1813, soon after his arrival from the Canadian frontier in northern New York state, where he had taken part in the capture that spring of British held Fort George on the Niagara River,  Major George Armistead, U.S. Artillery was assigned to command Fort McHenry in Baltimore harbor. He found the fort without a suitable ensign and thus placed an order to James Calhoun, U.S. Deputy Commissary in Baltimore for two flags. Since the U.S. Arsenal in Phildelphia was currently without ensigns, Calhoun purchased locally for the ensigns from Mary Young Pickersgill (1776-1857) and her mother Rebecca Young (1739-1819), well established flag makers of colours since 1806.

 * * * *

Mr. James Calhoun, Jun., Deputy Commissary

To Mary Pickersgill

For 1 American Ensign 30 by 42 feet, first quality Bunting $405.90

For 1      do          do      17 by 25 feet,  do     do       do        $168.54

For Fort McHenry                                                                 $574.44   

August 19, 1813

Baltimore, 27th October 1813. Received from James Calhoun, Jun., Deputy Commissary, five hundred and seventy-four dollars and forty-four cents in full for the above bill.

Signed duplicates

For Mary Pickersgill

Eliza Young

* * * *

Received the within flags, signed duplicates

Gr. Armistead, Major Comm[andin]g.

A year later in September 13-14, 1814 both ensigns would be flown over Fort McHenry during “the perilous fight” and became the inspiration for a new national song – “The Star-Spangled Banner.”  The garrison flag (42’x30′) is on exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

Published in: on April 12, 2011 at 1:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

Elizabeth Sands (1789-1890): Angel on the Battlefield

Elizabeth Warner was born on March 7, 1789 in Darlington, Harford County, Md., the daughter of clockmaker Cuthbert and Ann Warner who removed their family to Baltimore shortly thereafter.

Following the Battle of North Point, Sept. 12, 1814, Elizabeth and several other ladies tended to the wounded and dying on the field. Three of her brothers had served in the battle; John S. Warner (Capt. Aisquith’s First Baltimore Sharp Shooters) and Thomas and Andrew E. Warner both captains in the 39th Maryland Militia. She made her brother John’s rifle uniform of “bottle green, including his hat with a double row of black bugles [buttons on his coat (?)].”

After the war Elizabeth, described as having “a sprightly conversation and is highly entertaining” was made “an honorary member” of the Old Defenders’ Association of 1814,  On each Defenders’ Day in September upon the anniversary of the battle, she wore with pride “the blue and gold badge of the association”, and through her remaining years witnessed in her later years the Defenders’ parade from a window at her home on Eutaw and Madison streets. 

In July 1824 she married John Sands who made “handsomely engraved minatures of the General Marque de Lafayette during the French officer’s to Baltimore. John Sands died in 1829. Elizabeth died on August 3, 1890 at the age of 101 years outliving all the known War of 1812 veterans of Maryland. Her final resting place is unknown.

Sources: The Sun, Sept. 7, 1887; March 6, 1888; July 26, 1890; Aug. 4, 1890; Sept. 29, 1890; Baltimore Patriot, Aug. 24, 1824.

Published in: on April 3, 2011 at 8:47 am  Leave a Comment