History – Mt. Pleasant

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Historic Mt. Pleasant farm
was donated for preservation by Ruth and Frances Brown, retired Howard County schoolteachers. It is now used for our educational programs, special events and is open to the public for hiking, exploring our nature center, and visiting the John L. Clark Honors Garden. Gardens, farm fields, streams, and mature hardwood trees frame the historic farmhouse. Multiple outbuildings surround the house: the carriage house, blacksmith shop, bank barn, wagon shed, corn crib, smokehouse, chicken coop, guinea fowl coop, ice house foundation, and outhouse.

The History of Mt. Pleasant Farm

In 1692, Thomas Browne, a Patuxent Ranger, was commissioned by the colonial government as a Patuxent Ranger to survey the area between the Patapsco and Patuxent Rivers and to observe the activities of the Native Americans. He received Ranter’s Ridge as a land grant in 1703. This land, which became known as Mt. Pleasant, remained in the Brown family for eight generations until Ruth and Frances Browns’ deaths in the early 1990s. The Howard County Conservancy, founded in 1990, took ownership of Mt. Pleasant in partnership with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Howard County government in 1993. The entire 232-acre farm is under conservation easement, held in perpetuity by the Maryland Environmental Trust. This property will never be developed.

While records are limited, there is evidence enslaved people lived at Mt. Pleasant in the 1800s. An 1850 Federal Slave Census shows Samuel Brown’s wife, Elizabeth, owned 14 slaves – three men, two women and nine children.

Chronology

1651 Thomas Browne, father of Ranger Brown, migrates from Nansemond, Virginia (now Suffolk) to Maryland and settled in Anne Arundel County.

1692 Thomas Browne, known as the Patuxent Ranger, is commissioned by the governing body of Anne Arundel County to survey the lands at the headwaters of the Patuxent River and its tributaries. As a Ranger, he is charged with keeping watch over the activities of the Native Americans in the area from what is now Laurel to the northern borders of Anne Arundel County along the Patapsco River. This area includes some of the headwater streams of the Patuxent River and is now part of Howard County.

1703 Ranger Browne is given a land grant for 415-acre named Ranter’s Ridge.

1715 The Patuxent Ranger dies, leaving four sons. The lower part of Ranter’s Ridge is left to the youngest son, Joshua.

1728 Joshua later acquires 100 acres of Good Fellowship. In the course of numerous land exchanges and transfers, the “e” was dropped from the Browne name, making Joshua one of the first Browns in Upper Anne Arundel (Upper Anne Arundel became Howard County in 1851).

1768 At Joshua’s death, the land passes to son, Benjamin, who later leaves it to his son, Capt. Samuel Brown. Samuel leaves the property to his son John Riggs Brown.

Circa 1775 A one-room log cabin is built. There is much debate on an exact date. We believe the Ranger Thomas Browne undoubtedly constructed some type of temporary shelter or “settler’s hut” on the property. However, recollections by Ruth Brown indicate that the one-room log cabin, which is now part of the farmhouse, was not built until the mid-1770’s.

1838 Samuel Brown (1810-1880) begins acquiring the 232-acre farm as it exists today. He purchases 192 acres of the Hammonds Ridge tract from Thomas Herbert and in 1859 an additional 40 acres from his brother John from the Good Fellowship tract. During this time a second story to the log cabin and an addition on the north side was constructed.

1846 Samuel is elected to his first of three consecutive terms as commissioner of the Howard District of Anne Arundel County.

1865 Samuel and his two sons constructed the front addition of the farmhouse consisting of a parlor, foyer, and two bedrooms.

1868 Slavery was abolished in Maryland in 1864, but records continued through 1868. According to the Maryland State Archives, the General Assembly authorized additional documentation in case the federal government would someday compensate former slave owners.

A 1868 ledger shows Samuel Brown owned the following nine slaves before slavery was abolished.

  • Kinsey Johnson, 18, male
  • Isaac Sheridan, 17, male
  • Kitty Johnson, 16, female
  • Mary Chase, 35, female
  • Joseph Chase, 14, male
  • John Chase, 8, male
  • Joshua Chase, 6 male
  • Eliza Chase, 2, female
  • Emily Conway, 4, female

1878 The jail in Ellicott City is constructed with Samuel’s name, along with the other two commissioners, inscribed in stone under the front gable.

1880 Samuel Brown dies, leaving the farm in trust for his wife Elizabeth, and subsequently to six of his children, including the youngest son, Frank deSales Brown. From then until 1903, Frank acquires the shares of his brothers and sisters and eventually became the sole owner of the farm.

1901 At age 47, Frank marries Sarah Louise Davis.

1902 Several outbuildings, constructed by Samuel Brown, are destroyed by a fire of unknown origin. Frank Brown constructs the existing outbuildings.

1911 Frank deSales Brown dies, leaving the farm to his three children: Samuel Brown (1902-1974), Ruth Davis Brown (1903-1990), and Frances Louise Brown (1906-1992). His wife, Sarah Louise is to retain a life interest. Samuel Brown becomes a Civil Engineer with the Baltimore Water Department. Ruth and Frances become teachers and retire after spending 49 and 48 years, respectively, teaching Howard County children.

1900s A small utility/laundry room with a second-story storage area was added to the west side of the 1865 addition.

1950 The early 1800s addition to the rear of the log cabin is removed, and the existing rear wing is constructed. Indoor plumbing was added to the farmhouse.

1962 Sarah Louise Brown dies.

1974 Samuel Brown dies, leaving his one-third interest in the farm to his sisters.

Ruth Davis Brown dies in 1990, and Frances Louise Brown dies in 1992,  leaving Mt. Pleasant in preservation for the enjoyment of all.

Learn more:

To learn more about the history of the Brown Family and Mt Pleasant, click here to view a book created by our History Committee compiling years of research.  Mt. Pleasant Farmhouse Book

Imagine life on Mt. Pleasant back in the 1750s as a blacksmith, with this script written by one of our volunteers. This script is used currently in our middle school field trips to students to rural farm life long ago.

Presentation on history and archeology of Mt. Pleasant