3:30 PM EST, December 30, 2012
Larry Perl's interesting article about the centennial of Baltimore's Guilford neighborhood would have been even more so had he touched more on the history of the neighborhood ("Guilford ready to ring in New Year with its centennial celebrations," Dec. 28).
Guilford was named by the original owner of the estate, Gen. William McDonald, a veteran of both the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. He named the place after the Battle of Guilford Court House, which was fought during the American Revolution near Greensboro, N.C., and where he was wounded on March 15, 1781.
Having emigrated from his native Scotland, General McDonald later moved to Baltimore and made a fortune in the lumber and shipping business.
On his death, the general left several million dollars — an immense sum in those days — to his son, William ("Billy") McDonald II. But the younger McDonald managed to blow through it in short order by building one of the largest houses in the country.
Billy was fond of entertaining hundreds of guests in his house at lavish dinner parties attended by, among others, his prize-winning horse, named Flora Temple.
Flora Temple was the model for the "bob-tailed nag" in one of 19th-century American composer Stephen Fester's most famous songs, "Camptown Races." And she was said to have had her own place at the table.
Billy's heirs later sold the property to Arunah S. Abell, the founder of The Baltimore Sun. The Abell family, in turn, sold it to the developers of the current neighborhood.
J. Wistar Huey III, Ellicott City
The writer is a great-great-great-grandson of Gen. William McDonald.
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