Just what does that O stand for anyway?

By Louise Vest

100 Years Ago

A journey: Zion to Belmont

From a 20-year look back column in the Times (1892):

W.F. Iager of this county, and Miss Maggie Dinkleman, were married in Baltimore, at Zion Independent Lutheran Church."

Zion opened for worship before we were a country, in 1755 and grew along with the nation. Today they have many outreach projects, including assisting with disaster relief. During World War II, they housed service men on leave, giving 15,000 men lodging and breakfast during the war years.

The church is part of the Heritage Walk of Baltimore. The walk's sites include the Peale Museum, Friends Meeting House, Jewish Museum of Maryland, the Shot Tower and President Street Station.

President's Street Station played an intregal part in the Baltimore Street Riots in 1861. The first deaths in the Civil War happened as Union troops, passing through Baltimore headed south, transferred from that station to the rail station at Camden yards. When these northern troops met up with civilian Southern sympathizers, a riot ensued and some civilians and soldiers were killed. This riot occurred one week before the battle at Ft. Sumter.

But it wasn't the first war-related riot in Baltimore. Another famous riot happened in 1812 and Howard County has a special link to that one. Alexander Contee Hanson, who married Priscilla Dorsey, of Belmont, the Elkridge estate, was publisher of a newspaper in Baltimore that was the scene of a riot. Hanson's problem started when he expressed his opinion against the administration in his newspaper, words that almost cost him his life.

His newspaper office was mobbed by those in disagreement with him and Hanson's allies shot and killed two of the rioters. While this all was being sorted out, Hanson was jailed, but the mob broke into the jail and beat him almost to death. After that, Hanson got out of Dodge, and began publishing his newspaper in Washington. Between 1813 and 1819 he was also Unites States representative, and then U.S. Senator and frequently brought dignitaries home with him to Belmont.

Amazingly, Hanson did all of this before his death at 33 years old. No Belmont grass was growing under his feet! But when your granddaddy was considered by many to be the first president of the United States, you have to try to keep up. Hanson's grandfather, John Hanson, was elected president of the Continental Congress. He was one of several men who served in that capacity until George Washington took over the reins of office.

Marylander Hanson's claim to fame as the first president of the United States is a source of pride for some Marylanders, a fact reiterated when I visited a senator in his State House office right before the end of the 2012 session and he told me a story about a friend of his who's a great fan of Maryland history.

It seems this man had an accident and had to go to the emergency room. There, during an examination the doctor asked him, "Who was the first president of the United States?" That's normally a good question to see if the victim's brains are rattled. But the poor doc was dealing with a history buff and so the man replied: "I know who you want me to say, but it was really John Hanson."

(Whew, I think that was just about Six Degrees of Separation from Zion church to Belmont. Kevin Bacon would be proud.)

75 Years Ago

O, really?

"Mr. and Mrs. Walter O. Brown entertained on Mother's Day the occasion being Mr. and Mrs. Leroy W. Brown's first wedding anniversary and Mr. Walter O. Brown's birthday. Those present were Mr. Wilkens Simpson and Mrs. Ann V. Earp of Rockville and Mr. and Mrs. Maynard O. Brown and son Alfred of Burtonsville, Mr. and Mrs. Carl Brown, Ms. Bradley Simpson, Mr. Carroll Brown, Miss Mildred Brown, Mr. and Mrs. Leroy Brown, Miss Laura V. Simpson, Mr. Lester Brown, Mr. Francis Brown, all of Dayton."

You have to wonder what the "O" stands for in Walt Brown's name: Oliver, Olin, Obadiah? While the fate of the world doesn't hang in the balance, guessing middle names, like solving cryptic messages on vanity license plates, does give a modicum of satisfaction. And it's cheap entertainment.

50 Years Ago


A Thank-you in the Times: Charles Ecker, principal, wishes to thank all the parents who gave their time and effort to help make the May festival and bazaar a success.

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