Wendel Bollman (1814-1884)

Harpers-Ferry-Bollman-Bridge

General James C. Clarke named one of his sons “Wendell Bollman Clarke”.  Since I could find no family correlation to the name I began to research the name in hopes of finding a connection.  James C. Clarke was one of the most notable railway men in the nation.  James C. Clarke had an illustrious railroad career rising to the ranks of President of the Illinois Central Railroad and Mobile and Ohio Roads. His other accomplishments are too vast to list can can also be viewed on my blog. So the first logical place to begin searching for Wendel Bollman  was in railroad history.  My hunch proved correct.

I was delighted to find so much documentation on him.  Here is what I found out about Wendell Clarke’s  name sake.  The original Wendel Bollman (1814-1884) was born January 21, 1814 in Baltimore, MD.  Wendel’s father died when he was 11 years. It is ironic that both Wendel and James lost their fathers at an early age andWest Virginia B. & O. Bridge forced to find work to support themselves and their families. Both would find themselves working for the B & O Railroad. Wendel was only 14 years of age when he started working as a carpenter laying wooden railroad tracks. Wendel worked various positions rising eventually to Master of the Road – he was a self-taught builder and engineer. Bridge at Savage MillThe first Bollman Truss was built in the 1850′s over the Little Patuxent in  Savage, Maryland. It was the first bridge built entirely of iron in America. The nearby elementary school “Bollman Bridge Elementary” was named for him.  Bollman rebuilt the Harper’s Ferry Bridge in West Virginia in 1851.  This would become one of his most famous bridges and rebuilt many time using his system throughout the civil war due to enemy fire. Unfortunately the bridge was washed away in a flood in the 1930′s.

In 1852 Bollman was awarded a patent for his iron suspension truss design called the Bollman Truss.” He transformed bridge building from an art to a science. Bollman is  heralded as the first successful iron bridge builder in America.

Circa 1855 Wendel Bollman left the B & O Railroad and together with James Clarke and J. H. Tegmeyer would form the W. Bollman Company in Baltimore, MD located in Canton on Clinton Street & Second Avenue. The company was one of the first to design, fabricate and erect bridges. Baltimore County Circuit Court records (Libor GHC 25 Folio 55) reveals that J.H. Tegmeyer on August 30, 1859 leased the Canton Company of Baltimore with a 99 year lease renewable forever for manufacturing iron bridges or similar manufactured items for at least two years. It is a natural assumption that this is where they opened their business.  The company faced trouble and ceased to exist circa 1862. On January 8, 1863 Tegmeyer and Clarke executed a deed (Libor GES 216 Libor 539) agreeing to sell the factory to Bollman.  Baltimore was  facing trouble with wartime conditions in the city which contributed the company’s demise.

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Circa 1865 Bollman would form a new company  – Patapsco Bridge and Iron Works.  The advertisment below touted the fact that they where the only establishment in Baltimore to manufacture its own bridges.   In addition to building bridges Bollman is also credited as being one of the architects for City Hall in Baltimore.   In 1873 he supplied the iron castings for the splendid dome on City Hall. he worked at the company until his death in 1884 at which time the company was dissolved.

Wendell Bollman Clarke  born September 27, 1859 in Baltimore, MD. He was affectionately called Wennie.  An 1886  Frederick newspaper article stated “Wendell has a rather delicate constitution”.  The article further states, “He is a good, faithful business man and a general favorite especially with children.  He mends their toys, teaches them to ride the bicycle, and entertains them with his inexhaustible fund of stories.  Almost every evening he can be seen on the seated on the front steps of his father’s handsome residence with a crown of youngsters around him.  There is not a child among them that does not love him to distraction.  Such a son is always the joy of the household”.

Wendell Bollman Clarke died on March 21, 1920 and is buried with his family at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Frederick, MD.

Resources:

"Gen. Clarke and His Boys." The News [Frederick, MD.] 10 July 1886: 4. Newspaperarchive. Web. 16
     Sept. 2009. <http://newspaperarchive.com>.
Smith, William Prescott. The Book of the Great Railway Celebrations of 1857, Embracing a Full 
     Account of the Opening of the Ohio & Mississippi, And the Marietta & Cincinnati Railroads, And 
     the Northenwestern Virginia Branch of Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. New York, New York: Appleton
& Co., 1858. N. pag. Google. Web. 16 Sept. 2009. <http://books.google.com/
books?id=KsdHAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA120&dq=William+Prescott+Scott+-+the+book+of+the+great+railway#v=onepage&q=
     &f=false>.
Howard, George Washington. The monumental city, its past history and present resources. 1-2 vols.
     N.p.: J.D. Ehlers & Co., 1873. N. pag. Google. Web. 16 Sept. 2009. <http://books.google.com/
     books?id=k9ERAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=Howard,+George+Washington+(1873),+%22The+Monumental+City
,+Its+Past+History+and+Present+Resources&source=gbs_book_other_versions_r&cad=9#v=onepage&q=&f=false>
Griggs, Frank, Jr. "A self-Taught Engineer." Structuremag. NCSEA, Feb. 2006. Web. 16 Sept. 2009.
     http://www.structuremag.org/Archives/2006-2/D-GA-Bollman-Feb-06.pdf.
Wikipedia contributors. "Wendel Bollman." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. N.p., 11 Aug. 2009. Web.
16 Sept. 2009. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wendel_Bollman>.

Photo's from Library of Congress Website - Historic Engineering  Record, Library of Congress Compiled after 1968 [online image] http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/hhh.wv0291
Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, Bollman Bridge, Spanning Potomac River at Harpers Ferry, Harpers Ferry, Jefferson County, WV

Tombstone Cold Case – Howard S. Thomas

howard-thomas

howard-s-thomasSo yes…I admit that I like to spend my time off wandering cemeteries. While this may sound strange to some, every true genealogist can relate to this obsession.  Today we explored the Fairmount Cemetery in Libertytown, MD.  It is a well-kept cemetery with attractive iron gates at the entrance. 

As we walked around something caught my eye. It was a tombstone carved from a large gray stone.  It marked the grave of Howard S. Thomas, born in Hanover, York County, Pennsylvania in 1860 who passed away in 1943. It is the only stone of its kind in the cemetery; and displays primitive qualities given the year of death.  As you can see in the photo to the left,  the top of the stone has a carved hand with the index finger pointing downward.  The epitaph reads  “RETURNED TO MOTHER EARTH”.  I began wondering who this person was; and why such why he had such an unusual stone. 

I went home and started researching. Through the 1870 census records I verified that he was indeed born in the Hanover Borough of York County, PA.  He was the son of Emanuel and Sarah A.  His father was a carriage maker, his mother keeping house,  and he had three brothers and four sisters.  The 1880 census revealed that  Howard S. Thomas was still residing in Pennsylvania, 20 years of age, and working as an apprentice stonecutter. His father was a retired gentleman, and his brother Jacob’s profession was listed as a dentist and another bother Edward a cigar maker. 

In doing further research I stumbled upon one of his siblings obituary: Miss Cora Ellen Thomas, a dwarf, daughter of Mrs. Sarah A. Thomas, died Thursday evening at 4:30 o’clock, at the home of her mother, on York Street, of a complication of diseases from which she had been suffering for the past few weeks.  She was aged 37 years, 3 months and 13 days. Miss Thomas measured only 37½ inches in height and 30 inches around the waist. When she was three years old, she suffered with blood poisoning, and since that time had not grown.  She usually enjoyed  good health and weighed 44½ pounds.  She retained childish manners all her life, the development of her mind stopping with the end of the growth of her body. She is survived by her mother, three brothers and three sisters, George W. Thomas, of East Middle Street, Dr. J. A. Thomas, of Reading, Howard S. Thomas, of Libertytown, Md., Mrs. William Strayer, of Aaneoka, Minnesota, Mrs. Emory Swartz, of York Street, and Mrs. William H. Melhorn, of McAllister Street.The funeral will take place on Sunday afternoon at 2:30 o’clock at the house.  Rev. M. J. Roth, pastor of the Trinity Reformed Church, officiating, assisted by Rev. G. H. Reeser, of Emmanuel’s Reformed Church.  Interment at Mt. Olivet Cemetery.Hanover Herald – Saturday, December 02, 1899

While searching  The Frederick News newspaper I found and article from 1895 that stated, Miss Emma Thomas of Liberty is visiting her parents, Mr. & Mrs. James Baltzell of the same place.  In 1900 Howard  and his wife Emma K.  (born 1864 – MD). are residing in Libertytown, MD.  The census records indicate they were married in 1882.  They have two children that are listed as Harrie B. and Frankie.  His occupation is listed as a marble cutter. The 1910 census still find them residing in Libertytown, MD, his sons apparently gone off on their own, but a little surprise. They have a grandson living with them who is two years old and is named, Howard F. Thomas, most likely after his grandfather.   Howard is still working as a stone cutter in a Marble Shop. 

The 1920′s find Howard and Emma living together in Libertytown, no longer is he a stonecutter, he is now listed as a barber!  I began searching the newspapers for an obituary when I found an article that explained everything. Howard Thomas had been preparing for his demise for over thirty years leaving detailed instructions for his funeral.  It states that Howard built his own casket as well as carving his very own tombstone.  He proudly displayed his casket in his barbershop for all patrons to see.  I am not related to this family, but hopefully they will enjoy the article. Another genealogy COLD CASE mystery solved. howard-thomas4