The history of Howard County began with the commencement of the history of Maryland on the Severn River near Annapolis, when the Independents were exiled from Virginia. Matthew Howard had tried to arbitrate with Governor Berkeley to resist exile. At a trial held October 1, 1649, however, it was decided that if the Independents did not attend the Anglican Church services, they would be exiled. Matthew Howard joined the colonists in Maryland at Providence on the Severn. His daughter, Mary, married John Hammond, another Separatist.
Matthew Howard's son, Matthew Howard, Jr., married Sarah Dorsey, the daughter of Col. Edward Dorsey before 1667. This was the Dorsey and Howard family tie. Edward Dorsey, the son of the settler, who arrived from England before l646, had patented a plantation with his brothers, Joshua and John called Hockley-in-the Hole on the south side of the Severn River.
John Dorsey, the youngest son of Edward, the colonist, was born in Virginia and lived at Hockley-in-the-Hole on the Severn, now near Annapolis, until 1699 when he moved to his plantation called Troy at Elkridge. In 1702, he gave his son, Caleb, Hockley-in-the-Hole.
Thomas Beale Dorsey was the youngest child of Caleb and Elinor, born at Hockley-in-the Hole in 1727. In 1746, he married Anne Worthington, daughter of John Worthington II and his first wife, Helen Hammond. Thomas Beale Dorsey, his wife and children lived at Wyatt's Harbour which is now known as Sherwood Forest near Annapolis. Judge Thomas Beale Dorsey built Mount Hebron in Ellicott City in the 19th century. He successfully petitioned for Howard County to become the 21st county in Maryland. His home now near Mount Hebron Church was on the Decorator Showcase tour in l996.
By 1778, Caleb, who had married Elizabeth Worthington, wished to locate in the Piedmont section west of Ellicott City, near his two brothers and began purchasing land there. John Worthington Dorsey, son of Caleb of Thomas and Elizabeth Worthington, married Mary Ann Hammond in 1815. She was the daughter of Philip and Elizabeth Wright Hammond, owners of the Hammond-Harwood House in Annapolis for twenty one years.
The town of Ellicott City evolved when in 1772, three Quaker brothers from Bucks County Pennsylvania chose the wilderness upriver from Elk Ridge Landing for a flour mill. John, Andrew and Joseph Ellicott revolutionized the area farming, built roads, bridges, and many buildings, introduced the wagon brake and plaster as fertilizer, as well as founding the town of Ellicott's Mills. In 1792, Andrew Ellicott who was commissioned to survey the boundaries for the nation's new capital, was joined by a free black man and family friend, Benjamin Banneker, who worked closely with the city's designer, Pierre L'Enfant. When the Frenchman abandoned the project and returned home, Banneker was able to recreate the designer's plans from memory. His homestead in Oella is being converted into a park
By 1861, Ellicott's Mills was a prosperous farming and manufacturing area. In 1867, a city charter was secured and the name changed to Ellicott City. It was designated a historic district in 1973 and today is the county seat.
On Old Centennial Lane in Ellicott City is an estate on which stands a fine old home dating back to the end of the 18th century. Commanding an extensive view of the surrounding countryside, the house stands on a hill five miles from town. The structure is asymmetrical, having only one wing. This brick mansion was built by Colonel Rezin Hammond circa 1800 for his nephew, Denton Hammond. Here, Denton and his bride, Sarah Hall Baldwin, lived many years until their deaths. Their son, Colonel Mathias Hammond, inherited the property. He married Mary Hanson, and they had no sons, but the Hammond name was kept in the family when one of their daughters, Grace Hammond, married Richard Creigh Hammond, a cousin. "Miss Grace" lived at Burleigh Manor for years until she died in 1928.
Off Elibank Drive in Elkridge lies Belmont, built by Caleb Dorsey of Annapolis in 1730. It rises two storeys high with one storey hyphens in the rolling countryside near the Patapsco River. Originally the property was owned by the surveyor, Mordecai Moore who laid out ten thousand acres for himself in the Patapsco section in 1730 and called it "Moore's Morning Choice". However, he never built a home there, as he had to sell it to Caleb Dorsey in 1735.
Caleb and his charming bride, Priscilla Hill of West River, lived long lives and were often visited by their father Caleb the Elder of Hockley-in-the-Hole. For many generations Belmont was owned by the Dorseys. When the builder died, his oldest son, Edward, inherited the property. He was known as "Iron Head Ned" because of the good iron he made as well his iron will. His daughter, Priscilla, also had a mind on her own, and when he refused to consent ot her marriage to Alexander Contee Hanson, she eloped. When the get away coach lost a cotter pin, the groom had another with him and quickly replaced it. Thus, the couple reached the minister in time to be married. Their son, Charles Grosvenor Hanson, married Anne Maria Worthington and had five children. Belmont was purchased in 1918 by Howard Bruce whose wife was a descendant of Caleb and Priscilla Dorsey. the Bruces lived there for 50 years and enlarged the house. After being owned by Ambasodor David K.E. Barton Bruce and later the Smithsonian, the mansion is now a meeting and social facilities where elegant weddings are also celebrated.
The road to Belmont is long and winding through lovely woods. A circular drive approaches the small front portico from which the front door opens to a panelled hall. On the left is the drawing room with the library and bright, spacious curved cornered ballroom beyond. This historically prestigious setting can be the perfect place for your corporate retreat, meeting or family celebration. The natural beauty of the 83 acres of rolling meadows and beautiful gardens welcomes you with tranquility and a peace which is unique to Belmont. The mansion contains a bridal suite overlooking the gardens and 24 guest rooms. The grand lawn tent accommodates up to 250 people.
To speak directly to the wedding planners, call 410 772-4300,
Belmont Conference Center Website
Kings Contrivance Restaurant
The lovely and historic Kings Contrivance restaurant is located in Columbia. Nestled into a 370 acre farm granted by one of the Lords Baltimore in 1730 to the Reverend James Macgill, it remained in the Macgill family until 1961, a total of 230 years. The original home of the Reverend James Macgill, one of the first Episcopal ministers appointed to the Province of Maryland, the stately house still stands today. It is easily recognizable by its stone structure, massive chimneys and sharply canted eaves. Reverend Macgill was the first minister of the Christ Church on Oakland Mill Road about three miles away.
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