Alexander M. "Marty" Todd Jr., a retired Eastern Shore vegetable farmer who was an 11th-generation member of the family that settled a farm that is now Todd's Inheritance Historic Site in North Point, died Sunday of respiratory failure at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson. He was 92.
"He'd call me when I was in the Baltimore County Office of Planning and would regale me with stories. He was one of the last private owners of the Todd Mansion on North Point Road," said John W. McGrain Jr., a Towson writer and former secretary of the Baltimore County Landmarks Preservation Commission.
"He was a genial and jovial fellow and a grand old man to me," said Mr. McGrain, who was named official county historian in 1998. "He had lots of stories about the Todds and their farming and boat building."
The son of farmers A. Morris Todd Sr. and Mary Melvyna Sparks Todd, Alexander Morris Todd Jr. was born in Baltimore and raised on the family farm on Lynch Road in Dundalk.
Mr. Todd, a 1939 graduate of Sparrows Point High School, began his college studies at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he played lacrosse. Because of the necessity of farmers contributing to the war effort during World War II, he withdrew from college and returned home to work on the family farm.
"He farmed several Todd family farms and other leased lands throughout his life, until he and his brother, Ben Todd, moved with their families in 1966 to a vegetable farm in Ruthsburg on the Eastern Shore," said his daughter, Ruth Todd Boggs of Towson.
While living on the Eastern Shore, Mr. Todd served as a member of the Queen Anne's County Board of Education and was a vestryman at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Centreville. He was also a member and director of the Maryland Vegetable Growers Association.
After retiring from farming in 1984, Mr. Todd moved to a home on Dunellen Drive near Towson.
"He was an avid lover of history and was a member of the Dundalk-Patapsco Neck Historical Society and was very involved in activities regarding the importance of the Battle of North Point" during the War of 1812, said Ms. Boggs.
Mr. Todd also became involved with his family's ancestral home, Todd's Inheritance, which was a land grant from the king of England to Thomas Todd, whose family eventually came to own most of the Patapsco Neck east and south of Edgemere.
"The family also had a ferryboat business they operated at the mouth of the Patapsco River," said Mr. McGrain.
The original Todd House dated to 1661 and stood overlooking Shallow Creek. During the Battle of North Point in 1814, the home played a strategic role. It was used as a lookout point from which Todd family members observed the approaching British fleet and sounded the alarm at the subsequent landing of the invading army as they waded ashore from their boats.
Sentries were alerted in Baltimore as to the movement of British forces as they marched five miles to North Point.
Rebuffed in their efforts to take Baltimore, the enemy marched back to their boats but not before retaliating against the Todd family by burning the brick house and several outbuildings.
The home was rebuilt in 1816 and remodeled in 1867, and was then occupied by generations of Todds until the house and four acres were sold in 1975 to Elmer H. Cook Jr., an historian.
The house, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, was purchased in 1997 by Friends of Todd's Inheritance from the estate of Mr. Cook, who had died a year earlier.
Todd's Inheritance had fallen on hard times and was in a dilapidated, rat-infested and vandalized state when the Friends of Todd's Inheritance took control of the property.
In 1999, the state purchased the house and surrounding land for $285,000, and then leased the house for $1 a year to the Friends of Todd's Inheritance, which refurbished the house as a museum and education center. The group is now known as Todd's Inheritance Historic Site Inc.
"It's good that the deal is completed, because there was some concern that it wouldn't be," Mr. Todd told The Baltimore Sun in an interview at the time.
"He was a very close adviser to the board of Todd's Inheritance Historic Site Inc. and gave tours," said Ms. Boggs.
"What he brought to the enterprise was all of the Todd family whenever we had a fundraiser or needed donations. He rallied the troops," said Carolyn M. Mroz, president of the board of Todd's Inheritance Historic Site Inc.
"He was a sweet gentleman who loved to tell family stories. His aunt had lived there, and he had listened and remembered her stories," said Ms. Mroz.
"He remembered where the other farms were on the peninsula and where things had been at Todd's Inheritance," said Ms. Mroz. "He was able to put us all back in time."
In addition to being passionate about his family's home, Mr. Todd was an avid fisherman.
His wife of 37 years, the former Mary Elizabeth Ober, died in 1982. His second wife of 17 years, the former Laura Elizabeth Fitzell, died in 2000.
A graveside service will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday at Todd's Inheritance, 9000 North Point Road. He will be interred in the family cemetery on the grounds of Todd's Inheritance.
In addition to his daughter, survivors include two sons, Mark Todd of Towson and Michael Todd of Baton Rouge, La.; six grandchildren; four great-grandsons; and a nephew.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun