Archive for November, 2010
In 1815, French-born architect Maximilian Godefroy completed the carriage gates at Westminster Hall and Burying Ground. Godefroy designed the cemetery entrance in the Egyptian Revival style with its hourglass form symbolizing “time’s swift flight.” He earned $5000 for the work. Landing in America after fighting on the losing side of the French Revolution, Godefroy spent 15 years in Baltimore working in the architectural field. He designed the Battle Monument, First Unitarian Church and Saint Mary’s Chapel, all of which are still standing. Westminster Burying Ground is the final resting place of James McHenry, Samuel Smith and Edgar Allan Poe.
Druid Hill Park is as tranquil as the city of Baltimore gets. The 150 year old park stretches out over 700 acres, much of which is covered in forest cut with simple utility roads and bike trails. The Jones Falls Trailhead is accessible from the Woodberry / Clipper Mill area just around the corner from Woodberry Kitchen. Once you’re on the trail you can either exit to the northwest side of the park along Philosopher’s Walk or take the work roads through the woods along the path of the Jones Falls. The little used roads wind through the dense foliage along the northern boundary of the zoo. The other day I rounded an unfamiliar bend and found the fenced off ruins of a building. After a little research I found that the structure was once Druid Hill’s blacksmith shop. The historic building is without a roof but its foundation and outside walls remain. The old repair shop is situated next to a peaceful waterfall.
“Burn the theatre,” was the first thing Edman Spangler heard following John Wilkes Booth’s infamous fatal shot on April 14, 1865. Edman Spangler, sometimes known as Ned or Edmund, was a carpenter at Ford’s Theatre and was an acquaintance of Booth’s, occasionally caring for the actor’s horse which was stabled behind the Washington D.C. playhouse. He claimed to have no knowledge of Booth’s escape route, but his story is contradicted by another stagehand working that night. Jake Rittersback claims Spangler told him to keep quiet when the two spoke after the assassination.
This and other damning testimony about his Confederate leanings and distaste for the president lead to his eventual arrest and sentencing of six years in jail. He traveled on the USS Florida to Fort Jefferson with Samuel Mudd, Samuel Arnold and Michael O’Laughlen, three other Booth co-conspirators.
On December 25, 1868 President Andrew Johnson pardoned the four convicts. Edman Spangler returned to Baltimore with Samuel Arnold and went to work as a carpenter at the Holliday Street Theatre for John T. Ford, his former boss and the previous owner of Ford’s Theatre. In 1873 the Holliday burned down and Spangler moved to Dr. Samuel Mudd’s farm in what is now Waldorf, MD where he lived out his final years. He is buried two miles from the Mudd residence in the St. Peter’s Church burial ground.
Green Mount Cemetery is home to over 68,000 graves. Established in 1838, the 68 rolling country acres located in northern Baltimore City is both intriguing and inviting. The historic park of the dead, built on the former site of merchant Robert Oliver’s estate, is filled with fine sculpture and monumental memorials. Among the towering obelisks and ancient markers are the graves of a few important Americans. There’s the Lincoln Assassin John Wilkes Booth and two of his co-conspirators, Michael O’Laughlen and Samuel Arnold. There’s the sideshow performer Johnny Eck and the poet Sidney Lanier. You can also visit Philanthropist Johns Hopkins or the founder of the American Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Thomas Wildey. It’s a fascinating journey through the past. The links below provide focused GPS information for these and other historic graves at Green Mount.