Acquisition of the Land

Christopher Columbus

In 1492, Christopher Columbus anchored his ships, Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria, off the Caribbean island of Santo Domingo, and on coming ashore, claimed it and the rest of the New World for his patrons, Ferdinand and Isabella, the king and queen of Spain.

Henry VII, King of England, worried that God might be allowing rival monarchs to grab more stuff than he, quickly dispatched John Cabot, an Italian explorer, on a westward expedition. Cabot sailed to North America where he planted the flag of the British Empire on behalf of Henry. Not wanting to be shut out, the French then sent Giovanni de Verrazano. Amerigo Vespucci followed, representing the Italians. Each laid claim to the continent for their respective sovereigns.

As there was no forum in which these competing claims could be adjudicated and enforced, ownership of the land and profit therefrom would come to be determined on the honored ancient principle dictating that might makes right. The parties adopted various strategies in hopes of prevailing in the struggle for domination in the newly discovered land. The Spanish chose the historically-proven tactic of savage-and-pillage, smashing the Native American civilizations in what is now Mexico and sending the confiscated loot to the home country as plunder. The French established ostensibly friendly relations with the native tribes inhabiting what are now the United States and Canada, and by means of incentives and bribes incited them to make constant war on the enemies of the French. The Italians essentially dropped out of the contest. The English took the long view, understanding that a large number of colonists with allegiance to the crown would ultimately establish the might necessary to protect and maintain a distant possession.

Aerial facing south This land was home to nothing but happy Indians and herds of buffalo. Then the Palefaces came. (Click image to expand.)

George Calvert, the first Baron Baltimore, was born in Kipling, County Yorkshire, England, about 1582, and died in London in 1632. He was graduated at Oxford in 1597, then sent abroad by his family to further his education. On his return he became secretary to Robert Cecil, the Secretary of State for King James I. Cecil obtained for him a clerkship on the Privy Council. In 1617 he was knighted by King James, thus becoming the first Lord Baltimore.

Calvert had for some time been interested in the colonization of the New World. He was a stockholder and member of the Virginia Company, which had established settlements since 1606 along the James River in the new colony. In 1621 he obtained from the king a patent for a few hundred thousand acres in southern Newfoundland, which he named Avalon. He visited this colony in 1625, and again in 1627, but was much disappointed to find the climate so severe. In 1628 he visited Virginia and explored the Chesapeake Bay. His reception in Virginia was unfavorable, on account of his Catholic beliefs, for the Church of England had full control of the government of the state. Notwithstanding this, he was delighted with the climate of this part of the country, and persuaded the king [now Charles I, who succeeded his father in 1625] that the granting of a colony in the New World to him would be most beneficial to Charles. In 1632 the terms of a patent were negotiated, bestowing upon Lord Baltimore that part of the country between the 40th parallel and the south bank of the Potomac River. (note) Before the grant became official, George Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore, died.

Map of Maryland(Click to expand.)

The 40th parallel is a due east-west line very near the later laid-out Mason-Dixon Line. The latter forms the northern boundary of Baltimore County and part of the Maryland-Pennsylvania boundary. The south bank of the Potomac River intersects the 40th parallel (generally somewhere) around present-day Hagerstown, and winds southeastward toward Washington, D.C. It then moves south, then east, and intersects with the Chesapeake Bay. Thus the Potomac's riverbank formed the western and southern boundaries of the patent, the Mason-Dixon line was the northern boundary, and the Chesapeake Bay was the eastern boundary. Later deals with Virginia got Maryland land west of Hagerstown, and the state got the Eastern Shore from Delaware.

No accounts of the time indicate that representatives of the Piscatawy or Susquehannock tribes or the Iriquois Nation, the actual possessors of the land, were consulted.

Anne Arundell

Cecilius (Cecil) Calvert, son of George, and thus the second Lord Baltimore, was born about 1605 and died in London in 1675. About 1623 he married Anne Arundell, after whom the county in Maryland would be named. On 20 June 1632, the charter intended for his late father was issued to him. It granted to Cecil, as the Lord Proprietor, many of the rights of a feudal sovereign, but provided for popular government and exempted the colonists from taxation. Cecil named his new domain MaryLand in honor of the king’s wife, Queen Henrietta Maria, daughter of King Henry IV of France.

In November 1633, Cecil sent an expedition under the command of his brother, Leonard Calvert, to the colony. Cecil himself never set foot on his New World land, but governed it through various deputies for 43 years.

The only son of Cecil, Charles Calvert, the third Lord Baltimore, was born in London in 1629, and died there in 1714. Cecil sent Charles to Maryland in 1662, appointing him the governor. In 1675, upon the death of his father, Charles Calvert assumed the proprietorship of the colony, and became its sixth governor.

Aerial facing south Charles Calvert (1637–1715), the third Lord Baltimore, in 1673. Living in the New World had its drawbacks. Note the square-toed, lace-up brogans. So 1672.

Article XVIII of the Charter of Maryland granted the Lords Baltimore full authority to "assign, Alien, grante, demise, or enfeoff" any parcels of land to any persons willing to purchase. Under this warrant, Cecil Calvert established the Conditions of Plantation, a system that defined the nature of ownership and title to land that transferred pursuant to the Charter. Essentially a title that passed from Cecil or his successors to a purchaser would be similar to what today would be called an assignable lease in perpetuity. The purchaser was entitled to do with the land as he pleased, and had the right to sell to another or pass it on by inheritance. However, he was required, as were subsequent purchasers or inheritors, to pay yearly rents to the Lords Baltimore, forever.

An English pioneer named Richard Taylor, a Quaker merchant, bought from Charles Calvert land north of the not-yet-existing boundary of Baltimore City for an unknown price. He later acquired several additional tracts of land, and consolidated the estate which came to be known as Taylor's Range. On Richard Taylor's death, the land passed by will to his son Joseph Taylor.

Joseph Taylor’s son, Joseph Taylor II, first built a log cabin on the property. By 1704, he had constructed the first section of the stone mansion that remains to this day. Joseph Taylor III, added additional sections to the house in 1770, and the estate was named Mount Pleasant by the family. After the Revolutionary War (which was won by the colonies), payment of yearly rents to the Lords Baltimore were no longer required, and possessors of land under the authority of the Charter of Maryland and the Conditions of Plantation were deemed by the new government to be the owners of that property in fee simple. Descendants of Joseph Taylor lived on the property until 1915, when the land was leased as a tenant farm.

Taylor's Chapel Taylor's Chapel. (Click image to expand.)

Wholly within the boundary of Mount Pleasant Park lies a three-quarter-acre plot on which sits Taylor's Chapel and the adjacent Taylor's Cemetery. This essay was written by Barbara Nickel, chairperson of the Taylor's Chapel Board of Trustees, based on the research of Carroll Taylor Sinclair.

Taylor's Chapel – Beginnings

It was quite common for Quakers to meet in their homes for worship, until a Meeting House was built. It is certain that religious meetings were held in the Taylor homes, and that they still considered themselves Quakers.

Many well-to-do families had their own places of worship, or chapels, on their own plantations. Joseph Taylor II, disowned by the Quakers, intensely religious, quite well-to-do financially, and head of his family, was the most likely one to build a Quaker Meeting House where all could gather for worship. A log structure was built on the Taylor property and was referred to as Taylor's Chapel.

Joseph Taylor II died in 1789 but his burial place is uncertain. In the oldest part of the family cemetery there is an illegible tombstone. Perhaps that is the anonymous burial place of Joseph.

The Family Name Continues

Joseph Taylor II never married and therefore, in his Will of 1789, he left the land, called Taylor's Range, to his nephews Richard and Samuel, divided equally. However, Samuel died before his uncle Joseph, who then added a codicil to his Will leaving the half intended for his deceased nephew Samuel to five of Samuel's six sons. One of these sons was also named Joseph and it was he who received the tract of land on which the chapel is located. This Joseph is known as Joseph Taylor IV (1764 – 1830). (Little is known of Joseph Taylor III except that he never married and died in 1762.)

Joseph Taylor IV and his wife, Sarah Gatch, had no children, so they 'adopted' his younger brother Elijah Taylor (1786 – 1867) who inherited Joseph's estate, including the Chapel.

The earliest recorded date of a structure called Taylor's Chapel is in the Will of Richard Taylor (the nephew of Joseph Taylor II and uncle of Joseph Taylor IV) dated May 20, 1816. In the Will, he directs that the old road leading in a southeast direction to Joseph Taylor's Meeting House shall be kept open the width of twenty feet until it intersects Elijah Taylor's land. Richard lived at the home later known as Mount Prospect, southwesterly from the intersection of Taylor Avenue and Hillen Road. A road southeast from his home to Taylor's Chapel would be what is now known as Hillen Road, keeping in mind the many changes that have been made over the years.

Joseph Taylor IV - 1800's

Joseph Taylor IV was a Quaker as late as 1803, according to legal documentation in which he declared himself a Quaker, however, Bishop Francis Asbury (1745 – 1816), a leader in the establishment of Methodism in America, preached at Taylor's Chapel as early as September 3, 1777 (as recorded in Bishop Asbury's personal journal). The Chapel and its congregation became a part of the Baltimore Conference of the Methodist Church sometime in the early 1800's and was on the circuit with various churches including Andrew Chapel and Perry Hall Methodist.

Joseph Taylor IV died in 1830. In his Will he gives 'to the Society of Methodists in this neighborhood, my meeting house together with one quarter of an acre of land on which it now stands.' In 1853, under the direction of his brother and legally adopted son, Elijah Taylor, the old wooden structure of the Chapel was torn down and a stone and stucco structure was erected and was dedicated on November 21, 1853.

In Elijah Taylor's Will of 1863 he declares that 'ingress and egress to and from the Chapel . . . shall forever hereafter be kept open, free and unobstructed to and for the congregation which shall or may hereafter worship at said Chapel.' The congregation remained active until the turn of the century.

The Twentieth Century

On March 11, 1900, the Board of Trustees of Taylor's Chapel was officially incorporated under the laws of the state of Maryland. As the congregation dwindled it became the full responsibility of the trustees to maintain the little “Chapel on the Hill.”

The last member of the family to live in the old home, just yards away from the Chapel, was Miss Sarah Rebekah Taylor (daughter of Elijah and Sarah Taylor), who died there in 1915 and is buried in the cemetery of Taylor's Chapel. In 1925, the city of Baltimore purchased the Taylor property with the exception of Taylor's Chapel and its three-quarter of ground which is held by its self-perpetuating Board of Trustees forever.

By 1930 there were no regular services held and no members listed in the Baltimore Methodist Conference Minutes of 1931. Mr. Carroll Klingelhofer, Sr., is mentioned as the last faithful member and custodian as well as Chairman of the Board of Trustees. He resigned in 1958.

Taylor's Chapel – Rebirth

The Chapel was then neglected and vandalized until 1962. At that time a group of interested persons met and elected Mrs. Naomi Loeschke as Chairman of the “Chapel Committee.” Mr. William Riddick of the Peale Museum, Naomi and Donald Loeschke, and other volunteers, scrubbed, painted, and removed trash. The outside of the Chapel and the fence were painted; Don Loeschke re-lettered the sign over the door; the piano was tuned and the organ rebuilt. The overgrown graveyard was then tackled with the result that between the inside and the outside enough trash was accumulated for five of the large yellow city trash trucks to haul away.

Taylor's Chapel was re-dedicated by Rev. Dr. Charles Phillips on June 17, 1962. St. John's of Hamilton United Methodist Church began holding services there three times a year on Sunday afternoons at 3 p.m.

In 1963 the Board of Trustees was officially re-established with Mr. Thomas Everett as president, Mr. William Sprague as treasurer and Mrs. Naomi Loeschke as secretary. Due to the care and vigilance of Naomi and Don Loeschke, the Chapel and cemetery continued to be maintained. It was a true labor of love into which much time and labor were poured. In 1974, the Loeschkes' health deteriorated, they requested assistance from their friends and fellow church members Ellen and Ed Brown. They became very involved with caring for the Chapel and in 1984 were responsible for overseeing another restoration of the Chapel involving exterior work on the roof and chimney, and interior work on the frescoes, flooring and pump organ. Mr. Leroy Wallace was president of the Board of Trustees during this time. A dedication of the restored Chapel was held on May 20, 1984. The Chapel gained status on the National Register of Historic Places at that time.

On August 13, 1924, the Park Board of Baltimore authorized the purchase of the property. Negotiations were held between Randolph Barton, Jr., representative of the Taylor family trusts, and J. Cookman Boyd, on behalf of the Park Board. (note) On February 24, 1925, the purchase was completed. The city acquired 260 acres, primarily woodland, for $130,000. The acquisition fulfilled the promise the Park Board had made three years earlier to the residents of Govans, that the next city park would be established within their district. The designer of Baltimore’s parks system, Frederick Law Olmstead, Jr., was a landscape designer lauded for his work in many cities. Use of the Taylor property as a park, although outside the city limits of his time, fit with the urban parkland scheme Olmstead had established for the city two decades earlier in his 1904 "Report Upon the Development of Public Grounds for Greater Baltimore."

Two years earlier, Mr. Boyd, as president of the Park Board, accepted with some trepidation an elephant from Calcutta, purchased with pennies collected by the children of Baltimore and presented as a gift to an unprepared city administration. Unsure of what to do with the elephant, Boyd and the Board made a temporary home for it at Gwynn Oak Park and conducted a contest to find a suitable name for it. Mary Ann was chosen.

The $500 per acre cost of the Mount Pleasant property was small in contrast to the cost of other property acquired for Baltimore parks up to that time. Patterson Park [128 acres] was bought for $3,632 per acre in 1827; Druid Hill Park [674.16 acres], was purchased for $1,069 an acre in 1860; Carroll Park [177 acres] cost the city $1,736 per acre in 1890; Clifton Park [267.26 acres] was acquired in 1895 for $2,822 an acre; Gwynn’s Falls Park went in 1902 for $1,000 an acre for 390.3 acres; Wyman Park [198.39 acres] became public property for $617 an acre in 1903; and Herring Run Park cost $680 an acre for 164.61 acres in 1908. The parcels comprising Broening Park, on the waterfront, were acquired over time [before 1924] at an average cost of $8,200 an acre.

The press release issued by the Baltimore Park Board announcing the purchase did not mention that a golf course would be built on the property.