When I find myself hitting a brickwall in genealogical research what do I do? Well…google it of course. So here I am researching Henrietta Gardiner, my gggg Grandmother. Frustrated…and against a wall…I google her name. Now mind you I have googled it consecutively for the last few years, when ALAS (something I think she would have said) a result was returned! The link read:
“Alleged swindling of Henrietta Gardiner by Chief Justice Bowie.”
So I blinked…once then twice, and eagerly clicked on the link. It directed me to the Maryland State Archives website. I couldn’t wait for Saturday to come to head to the Hall of Records in Annapolis, MD. Upon arrival, I carefully filled out the request slip for the original document to be retrieved from storage. It was housed in GOVERNOR (Miscellaneous Papers) 1863. I pulled my white protective gloves on and waited what seemed to be a lifetime, reminding myself, not to get too excited. Finally the storage box was delivered to my desk, I carefully took of the lid and started going through all of the correspondence to the then Governor of Maryland, Augustus Williamson Bradford who was Maryland’s Civil War Governor serving in office from 1862-1866.
Then I found what I was looking for. They were indeed letter from my gggg Grandmother written to the Governor as well as her correspondence to Chief Justice Bowie. What I would learn would saddened me, but also gave me insight to Henrietta – her strong will and pride. What saddened me was her plea for money to survive. I have retyped one of the letters below exactly as she wrote it on October 22, 1863
New London, Maryland
October 22, 1863
To his Excellency the Governor of Maryland
I have seen your address to the Senate and house of Delegates and was pleased to see you so interested in the behalf of that good Government that we once enjoyed in peace and flatter myself that you feel equally interested in the behalf of your state and even to an individual of your State. With an honest heart I tell you that Richard J. Bowie now Chief Justice of your state did rob or swindle me out of the last cent of my fortune that my father gave me. To give you a true statement would be intruding too much writing on you..if you please you can read a letter I have written to Mr. Bowie enclosed in your letter. I will give you some idea of the treatment Mr. Bowie gave me. Is it not in your power to have my case opened, to see if the Chief Justice Richard Bowie is guilty of my charges? He did when acting as my counsel assist Price and Hobbs to rob or swindle me out of seven thousand dollars worth of land at the time they took it from me. If your Excellency would show him this communication he would be with a smile of contempt say who is this Mrs Gardiner? He knows who she is and I am pleased to know I have it in my power to say to your Excellency there is no one in America that can boast of better fore-fathers than I can there names are recorded in Annapolis – Worthington and Ridgely. If money could add anything to standing few could command what they could. I am happy to say your Excellency that it was not in the power of Bowie nor adversity to rob me of this rich principles that my ancestors left me – Justice – Truth and Mercy. I know your Excellency can give me a support according to standing, but the Country is already appraised enough. I would be obliged if your excellency would loan me $25 to $30 dollars until the Assembly meet and I lay my case before them as my need is great. I am unable to attend to business by reason of age being 75 years old and very feeble.
I am Your Most Obedient Servant,