A FEW questions were in the air...


A FEW questions were in the air in 1910, when this newspaper began, and a few more have arisen across the 85 years since -- unanswered questions that we bequeath to future reporters or investigators. Call them, perhaps, Maryland mysteries.

Some of these uncertainties are common knowledge, such as the Mary in our state name (was it for Mary of Nazareth or for Queen Henriette-Marie, wife of Charles I?). Others, such as the location on Kent Island of the trading post established by William Claiborne of Virginia before the arrival of Ark and Dove, may be unsolvable (the post's remains, if any, probably now being under water).

But a few others are teases:

* Who's got the bronze plaque (an art work) that was ripped off by night from Poe's gravestone in Westminster Churchyard in the 1950s?

* Did the cloth pennants of the 1894-95-96 Baltimore Orioles survive the Fire of 1904? For that matter, is there anywhere a photo of The Diamond, the McGraw-Robinson saloon on North Howard Street that was "baseball headquarters of the world" in the 1890s?

* Has anyone seen the nine (or more) volumes of Betsy Patterson Bonaparte's diary? There has never been a biography of Mme Bonaparte (1785-1879; born, married to Napoleon's brother Jerome, and died, all in Baltimore).

But Helen Jean Burn, public television writer and producer, is now writing Betsy's life story. One source is Jerome Bonaparte, Betsy's great-grandson and a recent visitor here from Switzerland. In her will Mme B., who was sharp of tongue and of pen, mentioned various writings, also missing.

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