MANE EVENT at ANDOVER EQUESTRIAN CENTER

Linthicum Vignette Number 30

(provided by Skip Booth, Anne Arundel County Historic Society) 

A Home for Three Families


Before the Andover Equestrian Center reopened in 2000, I walked around the empty paddocks looking for evidence of past inhabitants. I found a few shards of gray, glazed stoneware, a piece of clay pipe stem, two arrowheads, and an old rusty horseshoe. The arrowheads spoke of the ancient heritage of our community. The other artifacts gave testimony to the hardy souls who plowed this land and coaxed a living from the stingy earth. Intently focused in the hunt, I continued to survey the bare spots of ground between clumps of grass. There were the remnants of an old spring house in the lower field by the bike trail. A concrete cistern held water for the thirsty horses. In the cistern several goldfish swam beneath a thin crust of ice. Walking back up the hill towards the farmhouse, I thought about who had done this before. Who were the earliest farmers that plodded up this field towards their home?

Elizabeth Sanderson was born in Hull, England in 1790. She married Thomas Pitcher, Jr. in 1810. The couple moved to Anne Arundel County. The Pitchers had five children before Thomas died in 1819. Thomas Church Pitcher was born on December 10, 1814. This young man eventually purchased land from Abner Linthicum. Abner Linthicum bought a large tract of land known as Andover in 1801 and built a home in the middle of what is now Linthicum Oaks. He and his first wife, Rachel, raised seven children. At some point Rachel passed away. Abner remarried on December 2, 1828. He married the widow, Elizabeth Pitcher. The marriage was announced with the following poem published in a local paper:

“They say that Love is the heyday of Youth,
And Beauty the only Bewitcher;
But that is not so., for just look above,
A Statesman has married a Pitcher.”

Abner was 65 years old and indeed an elder statesman. The couple had one daughter, Eugenia Sanderson Linthicum, born on February 17, 1831. Elizabeth died a year later on February 4, 1832. The young girl, Eugenia, died in 1833.

In 1824, Abner’s son William and his wife, Elizabeth Sweetser, had a daughter, Ann Sweetser Linthicum. Ann married a young farmer named Thomas Church Pitcher. So Abner, who was already Thomas’ stepfather, also became his grandfather-in-law. Thomas acquired the land in 1838. The house he lived in was quite small and would need several additions to accommodate the Pitcher family.

Thomas gave up farming in 1852 and moved to Baltimore where his occupation is listed in the 1860 census as a brick maker. The farm was sold to a doctor from Prince Georges County, Summerfield Phylander Hamilton. Dr. Hamilton later dropped the middle name in favor of his mother’s maiden name, Peach. The 1860 census shows that a farmhand named Marmaduke lived on the farm at the same time. The doctor and his wife, Rachel, lived there at least until her death in 1899. Doctor Hamilton moved back to Prince Georges County where he lived with his brother until he died in June of 1906. The Doctor’s farm was sold to John H. Geis.

Mr. Geis worked for the Budeseim and Mewshaw Lumber Company in Brooklyn. He bought the company in 1893 from Franklin Mewshaw and renamed it John H. Geis and Company. Geis flourished in the building boom of the 1920’s. He sold prefabricated homes and buildings to meet the demand after World War I. Photos and catalogs in the Ann Arrundell County Historical Society depict a variety of products and services. In the late 1920’s, Geis bought 10 boxcar loads of classic garden furniture. Some of the lawn furniture ended up being stored in the barn on the Andover Farm. Larry Paul recalls seeing lawn furniture stacked in the barn after World War II. Guess it wasn’t such a great seller. John Geis married Sarah Shipley Hammond in 1897. Sarah’s brother Rezin Howard Hammond lived in the Benson-Hammond House. The brother and sister became next door neighbors. After John Geis died in 1930, the farm was used as a summer home and later leased out. The County Board of Education bought forty acres for Andover High School in 1957 and Andover Recreation purchased ten acres in 1958. Today seventeen acres of the original 109 acre farm make up the Andover Equestrian Center.

The restoration of the ell-shaped house revealed that it was built in three stages. There are several theories of how this building evolved. The earliest portion of the structure is the far west end of the ell (The part closest to the barn). This tiny one story building was probably built by Thomas Pitcher. Dr. Hamilton added on to the humble little home. Between the 1850’s and 1870, the main part of the house was constructed. A second story was added to the oldest section connected to the main section, creating the classic farmhouse we see today.

The restored 19th century farmhouse is home to the caretakers who manage the horse farm. The facility is host to many riding events and a therapeutic riding program. The BWI Biker-Hiker Trail runs through the farm past grazing horses*. I took my mother for a walk through the farm this fall and she remarked that the sights brought back memories of her childhood, growing up in the country. The Andover Equestrian Center is a small, vital connection to Linthicum’s agrarian past. As our neighborhood feels the squeeze of development pressing in from all sides, it is important that we celebrate this little remembrance of our past.


The simple lines and lack of decoration are representative of the Greek Revival architecture found in many Anne Arundel County farmhouses of the second half of the 19th Century.


The door on the far left is to the oldest part of the house, a one story building constructed in the first half of the 19th century.


From this view you can see the modifications made through the years.

Sources:
Heritage Quest – A genealogical database available through the Public Library’s Website.
Family Web - http://geonius.com/family/web/
Letter from the County’s Architectural Historian, Sherri Marsh
Anne Arundel County Historical Notes – July 1984
The Kuethe Library
Badger’s Genealogy of the Linthicum and Allied Families.

Circa 1922 photo taken by WWI flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker's photographer for Mr. Gies. Note the outbuildings and lane through the farm.

Circa 1922 photo taken by WWI flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker's photographer for Mr. Gies


* Changes to original text have been made to reflect current situation. 


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