THE HOWARD County Conservancy held a story circle last month about the lives of Ruth and Frances Brown, the late owners of historic Mount Pleasant farm. Helen Jones of Sykesville and Paul Miller and Susan Tornatore of Ellicott City reminisced about the sisters who lived on the Woodstock farm now occupied by the conservancy.
Sally Voris, a former neighborhood correspondent for The Sun, led the circle at the conservancy. Voris questioned the guests about their memories of the sisters, and those in the circle took turns sharing recollections. The stories were recorded and will be kept at Mount Pleasant. The project was made possible by a grant from the Small Museum Association of Clinton.
"I was just so amazed at the consistency of the stories I hear all the time," said Liz Stoffel, director of the conservancy. "Their characters come through so distinctly; they were really wonderful people."
The Brown sisters were direct descendants of Thomas Browne, who acquired the land more than 300 years ago. Browne, a Patuxent ranger, received the land grant in 1692 after he was commissioned to survey the Patuxent area and observe the mood of the Susquehanock Indians in Woodstock, Stoffel said. Browne built a log cabin on a hill overlooking two streams.
The farm became known as Mount Pleasant and remained in the Brown family for eight generations, until Ruth and Frances Brown died in the early 1990s.
The sisters taught in Howard County schools for almost 50 years. Frances taught sixth-grade math, and Ruth was a fifth-grade teacher. Jones and Miller, former pupils of the Browns, talked about the sisters' lives as Howard County teachers and their continuing relationship with them.
Tornatore, a neighbor, spoke at the story circle, which was held Aug. 18, about the sisters' commitment to preserving the farm and its history.
Tornatore met the Brown sisters when she contacted them for help on her son's history project. She became friends with the women and often took them on outings, including trips to Waverly Mansion for Christmas greens sales.
According to Stoffel, the sisters left their 232 acres to three agencies: the conservancy, the county and the state. Part of the house now used for gatherings is the original log cabin built by Thomas Browne. Additions have been made over the years, and the log cabin is now in the center of the house.
"In those days, people would cover up their poor roots," said Stoffel, explaining why the log cabin is not visible anymore.
Trees, gardens, fields and streams surround the historic house and nine outbuildings. "All the [original] outbuildings burned down in a mysterious fire in 1902," Stoffel said. The outbuildings were rebuilt in the early 1900s and include a carriage house, blacksmith shop, bank barn, wagon shed, corncrib, smokehouse and two henhouses.
Stoffel soon will have an environmental education building. She and her associates are finishing plans for the Gudelsky Education Center. The conservancy has received $800,000 to build the center, including a $500,000 grant from the Homer and Martha Gudelsky Family Foundation.
Stoffel is excited about the environmental center and the indoor bathrooms that will be built to serve the many groups that visit the conservancy.
"It will look very much like a barn," Stoffel said. "It will have a cupola like the carriage house."
She thinks the Brown sisters would be happy with the new center.
"They spent their lives teaching children," Stoffel said. "People that knew them say that they would be pleased with what we're doing here."
Remembering Sept. 11
Linden Linthicum United Methodist Church will hold a Sept. 11 Remembrance Service commemorating the events of that day. The church will begin the observance by tolling its bell at 8:46 a.m., the time of the first attack on the World Trade Center in New York.
The church will be open for a daylong prayer vigil. Lighted candles will be available for everyone to come and offer prayers, which can be verbal or written and posted on a prayer bulletin board. A memorial service will be held at 7 p.m., with presentations from members of the congregation who were affected by the tragedy.
The Rev. David Carter-Rimbach, the pastor, will offer a message, and music director David Foley will present an original composition.
The community is invited to attend. Linden Linthicum is at 12101 Linden Linthicum Lane in Clarksville.
Cookies for sale
The Girl Scouts of Central Maryland will hold a cookie rally, The Big Event, from noon to 4 p.m. Sept. 14 at the Howard County Fairgrounds.
Girls can participate in environmental and craft activities and face painting. A soccer kick, Hula-Hooping, jump rope, a big prize drawing and photo opportunities with Tony the Tiger and Keebler Elves are planned.
Tickets are $2 in advance; $3 at the gate. The Big Event is the third rally held by Girl Scouts of Central Maryland to promote the cookie sale. The cookies, which are sold door-to-door, will be delivered between Oct. 25 and Nov. 30.
Information and tickets to the rally: 410-358-9711, Ext. 281; 800-492-2521, Ext. 281 or www.gscm.org.