Early Female Education in Frederick County

Henrietta Bacchtel received this award in 1838 in recognition of her achievement in fourth class writing. She was a student at St. Joseph’s Academy in Emmitsburg, one of the earliest institutions dedicated to the education of women in Frederick County. Henrietta and her colleagues studied at St. Joseph’s during a time when the school’s curriculum was evolving in accordance with changing attitudes towards women’s education in the United States. 

When St. Joseph’s Academy opened its doors in 1809, the school’s first thirty students were educated in basic writing, reading, and arithmetic in addition to courses in etiquette and other domestic duties a woman was expected to perform once she married and started a family. By the mid-19th century, the school’s curriculum shifted to a greater academic focus with the introduction of courses in the sciences, philosophy, and languages. In time, schools like St. Joseph’s Academy developed a comprehensive academic course of study for their students and many of the women used this education to become teachers after the establishment of public education systems in the late-19th century. In 1902, St, Joseph’s Academy received a charter to become a degree-granting college which it remained until its closure in 1973. 

St. Joseph’s Academy was founded by Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton, who came to Frederick County in 1809 with the goal of caring for poor children and educating young women. Born into a wealthy New York family in 1774, Elizabeth’s early adulthood followed the traditional path of many women in her class and time. She married William Magee Seton at age 19 and had five children. Her husband enjoyed success in his business pursuits and the family lived in an upper-class neighborhood in New York City. However, by the age of 30, Elizabeth’s husband had died from tuberculosis and the family’s fortune had been decimated by trade interruptions from ongoing European conflicts. In this difficult point of her life, Elizabeth converted to Catholicism and dedicated herself to caring for children in need.   

At the invitation of Sulpician priests from Baltimore, Elizabeth moved to Maryland in 1809 and settled at Emmitsburg where she organized a religious order named the Sisters of Charity of St. Josephs (renamed Daughters of Charity in 1811). At the same time, the order established St. Joseph’s Academy to educate young women. Elizabeth Ann Seton was canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1975, becoming the first person born in the United States to become a Catholic saint.

March 1, 2023 by Jody Brumage, Heritage Frederick Archivist

Dr. George Snowball

This well-worn medical kit belonged to Dr. George Joseph Snowball (1878-1984) who conducted a dental practice on West All Saints Street for fifty-seven years between 1913 and 1970. Now preserved in the collection at Heritage Frederick, the kit is a significant artifact from the vibrant professional community that existed on All Saints Street during the era of racial segregation in Frederick.

George Snowball was born in Kingston, Jamaica, then a part of the British West Indies. He began his working life as a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse. However, George aspired to become a doctor. After a decade of teaching and saving money, George immigrated to the United States and entered the dental school at Howard University. After a year in Washington, DC, George transferred to Meharry Medical School in Nashville, Tennessee, where he received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree. Dr. Snowball returned to Maryland to take his exams and become licensed to practice.

Dr. David G. Everhart, a member of the State Board of Medical Examiners, was impressed with Dr. Snowball and offered to assist him in establishing a practice in Frederick. He introduced Dr. Snowball to another Frederick physician, Dr. Ulysses G. Bourne, Sr., who became a lifelong friend and professional colleague. Dr. Bourne helped Dr. Snowball set up his first office at 5 West All Saints Street. Later, Dr. Snowall moved his practice to 28 West All Saints Street, next door to Dr. Bourne’s office. By this time, George had married May Naomi Wolfe of Lewistown, and she worked as his receptionist and nurse.

Dr. George Snowball

The Snowballs kept long hours serving the residents of Frederick. Dr. Snowball often received patients from 9:00 in the morning to noon, 1:00 to 5:00 in the afternoon, and again in the evening after 7:00. The family was actively engaged in the First Missionary Baptist Church. Dr. Snowball received several accolades from community organizations in recognition of his service to Frederick. A special acknowledgement came in 1969 when he received the President’s Award from his alma mater, Meharry Medical School, to recognize his half century in the dental profession.

Failing eyesight forced Dr. Snowball to retire in 1970 at the age of 92 after fifty-seven years in his practice. He died at the age of 105 in 1984 and was buried at Fairview Cemetery in Frederick.

February 1, 2023 by Jody Brumage, Heritage Frederick Archivist

Shining Tribute to an Old Friend Returns Home after 150 years

A recent donation to Heritage Frederick tells a wonderful story of a much beloved citizen, his descendants migration to the West and their dedication to their family’s roots back home in Frederick.  Charles Mantz was born in Frederick on December 7, 1807.  His parents, John and Susan Krupp Mantz were “cradle to grave” Fredericktonians and Charles was one of seven children.  On his path to the title “prosperous merchant,” Charles spent his early career in partnership with his older brothers and later in partnership with Allen G. Quynn in that family’s renowned hardware dynasty.  He was instrumental in the creation of what became the United Steam Fire Engine Company No. 3 in 1845, becoming the first President of the Company.  His last great endeavor was to serve the community of Frederick as the Clerk of the Circuit Court from 1867 to 1873.  As a gift upon his retirement, Charles, who was greatly admired by his colleagues, was gifted a stunning, silver plated ice water urn, engraved with a touching tribute.  The inscription reads: “To Charles Mantz, Esq., Clerk of the Circuit Court for Frederick County, From his Deputies, A. Fearhak, Jr., H. C. Koehler, Wm. Nash Young, Walker Y. Page, Chas H. Baugher, Arthur Potts; A Testimonial of their esteem for him as an officer and a Gentleman with their sincere regard for him as a Friend, Dec 1st, 1873;” The urn, which stands almost 2 ½ feet tall was a treasured centerpiece in the family home on East Patrick Street.

The allure of the American West during the last half of the 19th century was still irresistible to young people hoping to make a name and a living for themselves and, with the inevitable passage of time, Charles’ children were drawn away from the home of their youth. Son, Charles Gomber Mantz, first followed his sister Mary to Omaha where she moved as a new bride.  He then worked in the cattle business in Wyoming before settling in Fort Collins, Colorado. His three children, Charles, Anna and Florence were born many years after their grandfather had passed away here in Frederick in 1879, the treasured water urn lovingly displayed in their parents dining room, a constant reminder of him.  Despite never having met him, a connection in their much beloved grandfather remained.  In 1961, the three donated $300, divided between the C. Burr Artz Library and Historical Society of Frederick County (now Heritage Frederick) in memory of their grandfather.  

The stunning cold water urn, made in 1873 by Meriden Britannia Silver Company of Connecticut and decorated with a rare pattern of polar bears and icebergs, recently made the journey from California back home to Frederick, a gift of Florence, who passed away in 1992, and her son Edward B. Dewey, who has enjoyed the urn in his home for his entire life, using the piece regularly, most recently in the summer of 2021 as it dispensed ice cold lemonade at a summer family celebration.  I love the following quote that Anna found in one of her grandfather’s letters dated Christmas day 1874.

“Mr. Otis Johnson, chief clerk, William Miller, assistant, all my clerks, some few members of the bar and my neighbors, paid their respects by calling to see me and wishing me a Merry Christmas…. We dined on oysters today and have a turkey and opossum in reserve for tomorrow and Sunday ….”  The urn will be the highlight of Heritage Frederick’s holiday display, on view for Frosty Friday.  The piece will be moved to the courthouse for display in the new year.

January 1, 2023 by Amy Hunt, Heritage Frederick Curator