More than 350 years after Thomas Todd settled a piece of land in Baltimore County, about 50 of his descendants — some 12th, 13th and 14th generation Todds — gathered Friday for a reunion on the historic property with ties to the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.
Todds young and old wandered throughout the family house and farmstead in Sparrows Point on a swath of land granted to their ancestor by the King of England in 1664.
The property, called Todd’s Inheritance Historic Site, is owned by the state and maintained as a museum by volunteers. This week, it opened its doors to the Todds once more, many of whom came from as far as Tennessee, Virginia and Colorado to visit their ancestral home.
“There’s a constancy to it,” said Michael Todd, a descendant of Thomas Todd. Many of his earliest memories are of peering out the home’s windows at the nearby creek. “It’s been here and it’s going to be here.” He pointed out the Todd burial plot where his parents are interred near family members who served in the American Revolution and the War of 1812.
For more than 300 years, the Todds lived on the property, which was granted to Thomas Todd in exchange for bringing British subjects across the Atlantic Ocean to populate the colonies.
During the War of 1812, the Todds used the house as a lookout point to alert American troops to British activity. In retaliation, after the Battle of North Point, the British burned the brick house — one of the few private buildings they torched — as they withdrew from Baltimore, The Baltimore Sun reported in 1996.
The house was rebuilt in 1816 and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Members of the Todd family lived in the house through the 1970s. Now, family artifacts, like a spyglass once used to spot the enemy, are preserved safely behind glass cases and velvet rope.
Dozens of Todds and their extended families wandered through the halls and up staircases Friday, pausing occasionally to share a memory of a room or dispute a volunteer’s date for a renovation. Conversations were often peppered with quick mentions of which line in the family tree from which a person had descended.
Ruth Todd Boggs, a 12th generation descendant of Thomas Todd, helped host the reunion Friday, in coordination with several historic groups including the Daughters of the American Revolution, the U.S. Daughters of 1812, the Sons of the American Revolution and the War of 1812 Society in Maryland. The reunion featured a program with opening ceremonies, a musket firing and the folding of a replica revolutionary era American flag.
“There is … a lot of significance here in the history not only of Baltimore, but of the United States,” Boggs said to a crowd of relatives. “If we had lost the Battle of North Point, we very well may have been bowing to the queen right now.”
A poster board with a hand-drawn family genealogy sat in the home’s dining room. Todds dabbed their thumbs into pads of red and blue ink and pressed colorful fingerprints next to their names on the family tree.
Carolyn Mroz, president of the Friends of Todd’s Inheritance, said the group just opened the museum to the public in 2017. She hopes other Marylanders can come visit the property and reconnect with the heritage and history of their state. Though the Todds have long since scattered all over the country, their family history has relevance for everyone, Mroz said.
“I’ve done genealogy for my family and I wish we had something like this,” she said.
For many of the Todds, the day brought historical context to familiar surroundings.
Thomas Bernard Todd, named for his ancestor, could not stop looking to the upper windows of the house, he said. He was checking, out of habit, for the ghost his cousins told him about when they were children.
The kids, he said, were drafted in summers to help harvest string beans and turnips on the farmstead like generations before them did.
”There’s so much history and it’s all still here,” he said.