Carroll County Times
Carroll County

Frederick, Baltimore plan events recognizing famous Marylanders and their links to Fort McHenry

The hand-written poem written on a nearly 200-year-old piece of paper is still legible.

The poem starts with the familiar "O say can you see" and ends with "home of the brave."

Francis Scott Key's original "The Star-Spangled Banner" manuscript, written in Baltimore in 1814, still exists. It is typically on display at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore. For one weekend only, the document will be transported to Frederick, where Key is buried.

With 200th anniversary of the War of 1812's Battle of Baltimore just one year away, historical sites are celebrating Flag Day by remembering the region's links to the famous 15-star flag that flew over Fort McHenry in 1814.

The City of Frederick is planning a weekend's worth of activities focused on Key and his "The Star-Spangled Banner" manuscript.

Meanwhile, in Baltimore, the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House is holding its annual Flag Day festivities Friday at the site where Mary Pickersgill stitched the giant flag that flew over Fort McHenry.

Frederick and Francis Scott Key


The figure: Key was motivated to write "The Star-Spangled Banner" poem after seeing Pickersgill's flag raised above Fort McHenry from his position on a truce ship in the Patapsco River during the Battle of Baltimore. Key was born in 1779 and grew up at the Terra Rubra property in what is now Carroll County.

The Frederick link: Key practiced law in Frederick before moving to Washington. Key is buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery near Harry Grove Stadium, where the Class A Frederick Keys, named after the national anthem's author, play their home games.


The festivities: Key's "The Star Spangled Banner" manuscript will be on display in Frederick this weekend for the first time. The public can view it from 2:30-5:30 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday at Frederick City Hall, 101 N. Court St., Frederick. A 2 p.m. Friday ceremony at City Hall will feature a 15-star flag raising by World War II survivors George Delaplaine and Ray Gafney.

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After the public viewing, the document will be transported to Mount Olivet Cemetery, 515 S. Market St., Frederick, for a ceremony at Key's grave site at 3 p.m. Saturday The document will be escorted by the U.S. Army Old Guard and horse-mounted units from the Maryland-National Capital Park Police.

Quotable: "They think that Key may have gone through a couple of copies of the 'Star Spangled Banner,'" Special Projects Manager at the Tourism Council of Frederick County Chris Haugh said. "This document coming to Frederick is the oldest in captivity. It does have some scratch-out edit points within it."

Baltimore and Mary Pickersgill

The figure: Pickersgill became a prominent flag maker in Baltimore and was charged with making the flag that flew over Fort McHenry and is mentioned in Key's "The Star-Spangled Banner." Mary and her daughter Rebecca Young moved into what is now the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House in 1806. A widow, Pickersgill's flag-making business became successful, and she devoted her later years in life to philanthropic efforts.

The Baltimore link: Visitors to the Star-Spangled Flag House are visiting the exact location where Pickersgill made the Fort McHenry flag. The house was sold to the City of Baltimore in 1927, where the museum was established.

The festivities: The Star Spangled Flag House will be open and free to the public from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday. It is located at 844 E. Pratt St. in Baltimore. A ceremony will be held at noon, featuring the singing of the national anthem.

Quotable: "For those who have never been here, this is a great time since the museum is free and open to the public," Star-Spangled Flag House Executive Director Annelise Montone said. "There's a tradition dating back to 1927 when we first opened that noon on Flag Day the Flag House raises the flag. We plan our event around that."