Part III – Grandma was Penniless

This is my third and final post in the series, “Grandma was Penniless…”

1859

Honorable Richard J. Bowie

You know that I would have gotten my deed in two or three weeks when you came to the office begged of me to let let you get me a chancery deed.  You told me it should cost me nothing.  You said if I wished to sell I would find very few that would buy it at a Sheriff sale and I told you I would never sell.  I wanted it for my home.  You then said I will make the Trustees answerable for all the property Francis Simpson put into his hands I then said you may file a bill.  You said I will get your deed the first court.  Court after court passes and I never got a deed.  Had I thought for one moment I had all the property safe under the sheriff sale except a note of five hundred dollars that Forest had to collect the the heirs of George Wolfe.  You told me not to employ another counsel that you would attend to my business properly.  I stated my case to Sandy Magruder from Annapolis he said that I take Bowie to be an honest young man and he is your counsel.  I don’t see any need for you employing another.  For fourteen years you made me believe that Doctor Gustavus Warfield and the Trustee robed me of my land.  I called on you twice a year to know if there was any way by which I could get my property.  You said Warfield and the Trustee has so fixed the business that nothing can be done in the case.  I then asked could I not get some of the money I had paid them on the land.  You said no they have so fixed the business that I could get nothing.  You showed great sorrow for me.  You thought they were the worst of robbers.  I asked if Mrs. Ann Williams could not get her money as Francis Simpson was owing her twelve or thirteen thousand dollars at the time he appointed Trustee.  Knowing that if she got hers she would pay me what she owed me.  You only gave her two hundred dollars and I got two hundred dollars from you looking into my business since the year 1852. I knew that you and you alone where my robber.  I wanted you and Price and Hobbs’ Counsel to tell them that they had no interest or right to my land and to allow me to moderate rent for it.  That you would not do. If you do not pay me interest in the two hundred dollars that you had the use of for twenty three or twenty four years and give me entire satisfaction with regard to my business, I will publish your conduct.  Do not think that your position as it regads to Office has any influence with me for I esteem men according to their merit.  If you would cultivate justice and with an honest heart say I will give Mrs. Gardiner her land that I took from her and allow her moderate rent and pay her the interest in the year 1859 after having had the use of it for 23 or 24 years.  With this conclusion you would feel more happiness that you now feel.  You must feel unhappy when you think how you persuaded me to let you get me a chancery deed.  I am your friend and I wish you to believe in God for he sees and judges our actions,  You will please answer this and let me know what you will do in the business.  I will expect to hear from you soon.  Until then I remain.

Yours Respectfully,

Henrietta Gardiner

New London, Frederick County, Maryland

Grandma was penniless…but letter is priceless

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henriettaletter1225px-augustus_williamson_bradford_-_photo_portrait_standing       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,

Henrietta Gardiner