published in The Bell Tower
Architect Charles E. Cassell Was
Designer of All Saints’ Chapel
The still elusive
All Saints’ Chapel on Bond Avenue served our parish as a functional
necessity from 1883 until 1891. While little is known of its design or
decoration, we do know a great deal more about its designer. Charles
Emmett Cassell was born in Portsmouth, Virginia in 1838. To put this
date into perspective, it was just four years after the opening of
Hannah More Academy and one year after the founding of the Baltimore
Sun. Upon graduation from the University of Virginia as a civil
engineer, Cassell worked for the army at the fortifications of Old Point
Comfort. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he fled with drawings of the
water-works to become a captain in the Confederate Army’s Corp of
Considered a traitor by our federal government, he avoided execution at
the end of the war by escaping to Chile where he served in its navy and
was unable to return to the United States until after a general amnesty
in the early 1870s. (Just 14 years earlier, one William Norris of
Reisterstown had met and wed Ellen Hobson of Baltimore, also in Chile.)
Life in Baltimore
Cassell married Sally Bowles, daughter of an Episcopal clergyman,
and moved to Baltimore’s Bolton Hill area where he lived in a house
begun by his younger brother. His career as an architect began at this
point, and by 1904, when the city needed new buildings as a result of
the Great Fire, he was firmly established. He was a founding member of
the Baltimore Chapter A.I.A., and practiced with his son John Cassell
for several years. His offices occupied various buildings at different
times in the heart of Baltimore City. Charles Cassell is believed to
have invented the thick glass pavement cylinders that admit light to
basements. Perhaps readers remember walking on such sidewalks in
The architectural achievements of Cassell are too numerous to list in
full, but a few highlights must be mentioned as they are familiar sights
in Baltimore and elsewhere. These sites include the Albert Hutzler
country home, the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation (Preston
and Maryland Avenues), the Stafford Hotel (Mt. Vernon Place), the
Brexton Apartments (now abandoned and possible awaiting the wrecker’s
ball), the Baltimore Chamber of Commerce, the Chapel at the University
of Virginia, Stewart’s Department Store (Howard Street), the Greenway
Cottages (Opposite the Rotunda Mall), and, of course, All Saints’
Chapel, Reisterstown. This humble structure surely must have ben among
the simplest of assignments for the 44 year-old architect when he
designed it in 1882. Presumably, it of wooden construction and was meant
to be occupied only briefly while the congregation laid plans for a more
permanent building. When William Keyser hired an architect for the new
church on Chatsworth Avenue, it was not Charles Cassell to whom he
turned but the firm of Longfellow, Alden and Harlow of Boston,
Charles Cassell died of pneumonia at his home on Park Avenue, Baltimore,
in August 1916, after five weeks of illness. His Reisterstown chapel was
destroyed just two years later, and its lumber was sold for a paltry
Neal Haynie, Parish Archivist
Meet Miss Hannah More
This month, as All Saints' Church
prepares to participate in the annual Reister's Towne Festival, From the
Archives focuses on the new event site, or more specifically, on the
person for whom it was named. "Hannah More" is as familiar in our
everyday conversation as "Chartley Shopping Center," "Main Street," or
Super Fresh." But how many people stop to think that "Hannah More" is
not just a collection of buildings and a community part, but a name with
Miss Hannah More: Teacher
Miss Hannah More, one of five daughters of an English schoolmaster,
was born in 1745. She herself became a teacher, and when a projected
marriage failed, moved to London where she became a social and literary
success. Among her acquaintances were David Garrick, Samuel Johnson, and
Sir Joshua Reynolds. Later, undergoing a conversion, she turned her back
on her early theatrical writings and identified herself with the
Evangelicals who dominated the Church of England at that time.
Free education won a friend in Miss More when when and
one of her sisters set up a series of Sunday schools. They also held
evening readings of sermons, prayers, and hymns for parents, promoted
women's friendly societies, and taught sewing and reading to girls.
Rural conservatives objected to her teaching the poor to read and write,
and eventually Sunday schools became unpopular with the clergy. The
sisters closed their schools, and Hannah More, disappointed in the turn
of events, devoted her attention to other forms of education.
Reisterstown Girls' School
In 1828, Mrs. Ann Van Bibber Neilson, a childless, Reisterstown
widow, opened a small girls' school in her home, Locust Grove. Her
curriculum, taking its cue from the Sunday schools of Hannah More,
included religious instruction, reading, writing and simple sewing.
Prizes were offered to encourage scholarship and seriousness of purpose,
although there was only slight attention to scholastics. When Mrs.
Neilson died five years later, her will provided three acres of land
across the Reisterstown Pike for a more permanent home for her school.
And most importantly, it was to be named in honor of Hannah More. Its
namesake died in 1833, one year before the opening of the new school in
St. Michael's Chapel
In 1854, All Saints' first parish church,
St. Michaels's, was erected at Hannah
More to serve the students in the growing school. It is today the oldest
structure on the grounds, for in 1857, a disastrous fire leveled the
original school building. Fortunately, it was quickly rebuilt , and in
later years, rebuilt again and added on to by William Keyser and the
Wyman family. All Saints' first two rectors, the Rev'd Arthur Rich and
the Rev'd Joseph Fletcher, both served as principals of the academy.
--Neal Haynie, Parish Archivist
Elizabeth Wyman KeyserNovember 2000
On October 29, 1891, an act of love was fulfilled when William Keyser
witnessed the consecration of All Saints’ Church in Reisterstown, his
adopted country residence. Five years previously he had lost his mother,
aged 85 years. The donation of a new church, debt free, to the
Reisterstown parish was his way of paying tribute to her.
Elizabeth Wyman came from a distinguished New England family, one of
whom served in the Revolutionary War. Her ancestry is traceable to the
early 1600s in Hertfordshire, England where her family name was Wymant.
Her Uncle Sam Wyman once owned Homewood, today the site of the Johns
In her early twenties Elizabeth Wyman married Samuel Stouffer Keyser, a
Baltimore iron importer who hailed from Lowell, Massachusetts, and by
him she had three sons and a daughter. Sons William and Sam were
identical twins, frequently mistaken for each other throughout life.
Little else is known of Elizabeth Keyser beyond the memories recorded by
William Keyser in the recently published Recollections of a Busy Life
(Gateway Press, 2000).
The fondness he held for her shines through the pages of his manuscript.
He describes her as “one of the most devout and religious of women. The
marginal notes upon the pages of her Bible are so indicative of an
unfailing faith in the goodness of God and in the blessedness of the
future state for those who try to serve Him here, that I esteem them as
one of the richest legacies she has left her children. I am constantly
reminded of her, and fancy I can hear her counsel her loved ones on
earth that the search for the truth can never be offensive to the God of
truth, and that, even in matters of religion, honest doubt may be more
acceptable to Him than blind belief.”
Samuel Stouffer Keyser passed a good bit of his life as an invalid,
cared for by the ever-faithful Elizabeth. Following his death, she spent
time with her daughter in Philadelphia and, in 1876 toured Europe,
“deriving great pleasure from the trip, as was natural to one of her
bright mind and attractive personality.”
In the fall of 1885, Elizabeth Keyser invited her son William to join
her in Boston. “We spent several days in the city and vicinity, calling
on all the relatives, my mother, as was her custom, distributing little
gifts among the less prosperous, with all of whom she was a great
favorite, prosperity having in no degree dimmed her love for her family,
but if anything strengthened it.”
The following year, Elizabeth Keyser showed signs of heart trouble.
After one of his visits to her in Philadelphia, William Keyser “could
not help being impressed with her tenderness in parting from me, holding
me tightly clasped in her arms for some moments. Early the following
morning, while dressing at my hotel, I received a dispatch announcing
her death, which occurred without warning, a few hours before. In her
desk was found a letter written two days before, addressed to ‘My
beloved children, one and all.’ full of loving advice and thanks for all
the tender care of which she had been the recipient, and expressing her
confident hope in a blessed immortality. We buried her in the family lot
at Greenmount, beside her husband and kindred.”
“At the death of my mother I determined, when a suitable opportunity
offered, to erect some memorial to her memory, as an evidence of my
gratitude and love. Knowing her as well as I did, I felt that nothing I
could do would so meet with her approval as to aid Christ’s cause, which
she had so much at heart and to which she had always given so freely.
While visiting in the fall of 1889 at Beverly Farms on the Massachusetts
coast, my wife and I were much pleased with a little church we saw near
Manchester-by-the-Sea, so much as to remark how we would like to have a
similar one near our country home. On my return, I found among my
correspondence a circular letter form the vestry of our parish,
soliciting aid to enlarge our little All Saints’ Chapel, which
determined me if I could carry out my plan, to make this my memorial, my
little wife approving, as she always does whenever I suggest doing
anything for the benefit of others. On All Saints’ Day, the parish fete,
when the parishioners are accustomed to assemble and spend the day
together, I submitted a proposition to purchase a lot, and build and
furnish it at my own cost a handsome stone church, something on plan of
the one I had seen, and deed it to the parish as a memorial to my
mother, which offer occasioned great rejoicing and was gratefully
Neal Haynie, Parish Archivist
Colonel William Norris, 1820-1896
The Reisterstown Parish has long recognized William Norris as one of its
most familiar links to the Civil War. Buried at All Saints’ Cemetery, he
was during his lifetime, a local resident and communicant. Although not
confirmed until the age of 72, he attended All Saints’ Church in its
Tales still exist of post-bellum parties held at his Cockeysmill Road
home and of tipsy veterans making their way back to the Civil War
Veterans Home (now State Police headquarters) in Pikesville. This writer
can testify to numerous oyster shells found in the soil near the site of
the family home, long since destroyed.
The son of a Maryland hardware merchant, Norris graduated from Yale,
then practiced law in New Orleans, and later became a legal consultant
for the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Squadron.
At the start of the Civil War, Norris volunteered as a civilian aide on
the staff of General John Magruder. Magruder appointed him to command
signal operations with the rank of captain. Norris devised his own
communication system using flags and colored balls which were run up and
down poles. In 1862 he was posted with the new Confederate Army Signal
Corps in Richmond. By July he had established the Secret Service Bureau.
Agents comprised its staff which penetrated Union territory to obtain
information and supplies. Although their activities extended as far as
Canada, their main focus was on the Potomac River lines of
communication. It is said that New York newspapers could be conveyed to
Richmond within 24 hours of publication!
Norris was promoted to the rank of major in 1862 and continued to serve
the Confederacy until war’s end. A paper trail of his work, however, is
practically non-existent. The records of the Confederate Secret Service
were destroyed by fire; likewise, nearly all of Norris’s personal papers
and war mementos were lost when his Reisterstown home burned in 1890.
Although promoted to colonel at the close of the war, a combination of
work enshrouded in secrecy and small commentary by his superior
officers, including General Lee, left William Norris a virtual footnote
in the annals of the great conflict of our nation. His aging headstone
set among family grave sites at All Saints’ Cemetery is scant testimony
to his devotion to a cause that failed.
Neil Haynie, Parish Archivist
(Information for this article was obtained from the All
Saints’ Church Archives and from the book, The Civil War -– Spies,
Scouts and Raiders, by the Editors of Time-Life Books, 1985. To
date, 45 articles have been printed From the Archives. Over 50
binders and/or documents relating to the Reisterstown Parish are
currently on file and are available for perusal by members of the Parish
The First Ordination at All
The Reverend Francis Bloy
The 102 year history of All Saints’
Church has witnessed the ordination of a priest only twice, and those
events were separated by a span of nearly 75 years. Daniel Joseph Tuton
was admitted to the sacred order of priests on February 2004 and becomes
assistant rector to a far larger and busier church than existed on the
eve of the Great Depression. But if the career of his predecessor is any
indication, the Reverend Tuton is destined for great things!
On June 8, 1929, the Reverend Francis Bloy, still in his mid twenties
and not yet out of seminary, was chosen to succeed Ted Barth who was
moving on to Baltimore and, eventually, to the bishopric of Tennessee. A
distinguished congregation of the Diocese of Maryland took part on that
summer Saturday, as well as the new rector’s father, the Reverend F. J.
Bloy of Missouri. The Rt. Rev. John Gardner Murray (seventh Bishop of
Maryland) and the Rt. Rev. Edward T. Helfenstein (Bishop Coadjutor)
oversaw the ceremonies. They were assisted by the Rev. Joseph Fletcher,
All Saints’ second rector and Canon of the Washington Cathedral.
Francis Eric Irving Bloy was born in the south of England in 1904. The
son and grandson of Anglican priests, he moved with his family to
America at the age of seven. After graduation from high school in
Arizona, he attended the University of Arizona for two years,
transferring to the University of Maryland from which he graduated as an
honor student. With his eyes on the diplomatic corps, Francis then
enrolled in the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.
However, the call of the priesthood led him, to drop out and move on to
the Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria in 1926. Even before
graduation he was called to take charge of All Saints’ in March of 1929.
He was to spend the next four years of his career with his new wife
serving the Reisterstown congregation.
In 1933, Reverend Bloy moved to La Jolla, California, where he served as
curate at his father’s church, St. James, of which he became rector two
years later. His career advanced rapidly when he was named Dean of St.
Paul’s Cathedral, Los Angeles, in 1937. Eleven years thereafter he was
elected Bishop of Los Angeles, making him at that time the youngest
bishop in the Episcopal Church . His tenure in the Diocese of Los
Angeles ran until his retirement in 1974. Unfortunately, his wife died
ten day later, just as he was beginning to devote extra time to his
other passions, flying and astronomy.
As the third Episcopal primate of Los Angeles, Bishop Bloy served during
a time of rapid growth and ethnic expansion in Southern California. He
oversaw the founding of 46 parishes and missions and started the
Episcopal Theological School –known as Bloy House – at Claremont. He was
a trustee of both Occidental College and General Theological Seminary
and was the recipient of several honorary doctorates.
Never one to forget his flock, Bishop Bloy telephoned All Saints’ in
1971 to offer his congratulations on the occasion of the church’s
centennial celebration. Following a period of declining health, Francis
E. I. Bloy died in 1993 at the age of 88. He was deservedly well
respected in California, and we can be proud that All Saints’ Church was
instrumental in the formation of his long career in the Episcopal
Neal Haynie, Parish Archivist
This was a headline in the Baltimore News of June
4, 1904, one day after the unexpected death of William Keyser at his
country estate in Reisterstown. At age 68, he had fulfilled an energetic
life as businessman, churchman, writer, financier, builder and political
watchdog. Earlier in his career he had personally witnessed the first
bloodshed of the Civil War in the streets of Baltimore. And in
Reisterstown Parish he was recognized as the major patron of All Saints'
Church. Now one century later, it seems appropriate that we should pay
tribute to a great benefactor and civic leader.
Born in 1835, William Keyser was the sixth generation of
a distinguished family from Amsterdam. He was educated at St. Timothy's
School, Catonsville, and later married Mary H. Brent, by whom he
fathered six children, three of whom died in infancy. When his father
became an invalid, William entered his iron and steel business at the
age of 17. Seventeen years later he became President of the Baltimore
Copper Company. His numerous accomplishments in the business world
include Second vice-presidency of the B&O Railroad, founder of the
Baltimore Copper Smelting and Rolling Company, Director of the Western
Maryland Railroad and Director of the National Union bank of Maryland.
He was so highly regarded for his work in the railroad
industry -- especially in calming the Great Railroad Strike of 1877 --
that several communities were named in his honor. Notable among them are
Keyser, West Virginia, and Keyser's Ridge (Western Maryland). He also
helped to found the town of Garrett, Indiana.
Politically active, Mr. Keyser frequently worked, often
behind the scenes, to help bring reform to Baltimore and Maryland. He
served as a member of the committee of Five in 1882 to break the
Democratic ring, worked as chairman of the Democratic City Committee and
became President of the Reform League.
As a philanthropist, William Keyser gave generously to
many institutions. He served as a trustee of the McDonogh School Fund,
helped to rebuild Hannah More Academy, and donated 60 acres for building
the Johns Hopkins University at Homewood. One Baltimore newspaper called
him the richest man in Maryland.
In the Episcopal church, he served at church conventions
and played a role on the vestries of Baltimore churches. During the
months when he summered at Brentwood, his farm on Cockeysmill Road, he
took an active interest in the Reisterstown Parish. When, in 1890, the
call went out for building a church to replace All Saints' Chapel, he
answered by fully funding the new church on Chatsworth Avenue. All
Saints' Church was dedicated a year later as a memorial to his mother,
Elisabeth Wyman Keyser.
Immediately after the Great Baltimore fire of February,
1904, Mayor Robert McLane named William Keyser Chairman of the Citizens
Emergency Committee, a group of prominent business and financial
leaders, and charged them with mapping out a plan for rebuilding the
devastated city. (Mr. Keyser's own building was a victim of the fire.)
The Baltimore that we recognize today is basically a result of this
committee's efforts. Tragically, less than four months after the fire,
Baltimore's young mayor was dead -- of a presumed suicide. Only five
days later William Keyser also died quite suddenly.
On Friday, June 3, the Keysers were entertaining friends
at their Brentwood home. In the late afternoon, Mr. Keyser offered the
use of one of his carriages to three lady visitors to ride to Glyndon
Station for a return train trip to Baltimore. Upon departing, however,
one horse in the team became unmanageable, causing he driver to pull him
toward a tree. At that instant the ladies jumped from the carriage and
were injured. Mr. Keyser, who had been sitting on his porch, ran onto
the lawn to assist and immediately collapsed of a stroke. His distressed
family summoned Reisterstown doctors Harry Slade and James Gore who
arrived promptly but were unable to revive the stricken man.
Christ Episcopal Church, Baltimore, was the setting for
a simple funeral service for William Keyser, "a man who never admired
notoriety or display of personal traits, character or reputation." The
Reverend Joseph Fletcher of All Saints' Church assisted in the ceremony.
Mr. Keyser was buried in the family plot at Greenmount Cemetery.
On the one-hundredth anniversary of the death of William
Keyser, we pause briefly to remember the man who made our house of
worship possible. Two stone tablets honoring Mr. Keyser and his mother
are mounted on the rear wall of the church. And for those interested in
a thorough and fascinating account of the man himself, be sure to check
out his autobiography, Recollections of a Busy Life (ed. 2000)
available in our church library. This memoir includes many period
photographs and an account of how All Saints' came to be built.
--Neal Haynie, Parish Archivist
A church and a college with a common
denominator – an artist in portraiture and stained glass windows. That
person, or course, is Sarah Wyman Whitman. Ms. Whitman is well known to
us as the cousin of William Keyser and the creator of the outstanding
windows of All Saints’ Church.
Elizabeth Cabot Cary Agassiz, a woman ahead of her time, fought for
women’s education in the mid to late 1800s, finally convincing Harvard
professors to agree to offer instruction to “properly qualified young
women”, and establishing the Society for Collegiate Instruction of
Women, popularly known as the Harvard Annex. Se became its founding
president in 1882, and thus Radcliffe College was born., In October of
2004 a portrait of Ms Agassiz was moved to the Harvard Faculty Room in
University Hall – the third woman to grace those walls. The artist:
Sarah Whitman Wyman.
Ms. Whitman created many notable windows in New England, including works
for Trinity Church (Boston), Central Church (Worcester) and Christ
Church (Andover). Her 1891 windows for All Saints’ Church include both
clear-glass pieces as well as seven full-color works in the sanctuary.
Sarah Whitman’s final stained glass window was crafted in 1904 (the year
of her death) for the St. Louis Exposition. It was later purchased and
given in her memory to the Radcliffe College Room in the Schlesinger
Library. While her design incorporated landscape, in the manner of Louis
C. Tiffany, for the first time, the basic figures are highly reminiscent
of those used in the All Saint’s windows thirteen years earlier. The
inscriptions in both sets of windows are identical in style.
--Neal Haynie, Parish Archivist
Sources include the Radcliffe Quarterly, March 2005
Bishop Thomas John Claggett
For many members of our parish family, the word
“Claggett” connotes an Episcopal conference center in the hills of
Frederick County. But the name of this retreat originates in the person
of our first bishop, Thomas John Claggett (1743-1816) – in fact, the
first Episcopal bishop consecrated in the newly formed United States of
The Claggett family – originally spelled Clagett –
traces its ancestry to the late 1400s in Kent, England.One George
Clagett was mayor of Canterbury in the early 1600s, the time of William
Thomas John Claggett was born in Prince George’s
County and attended Princeton University. Following graduation he
studied theology and returned to England where he was ordained in
1767. Two years later he became rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in
Sunderland, Calvert County. His ministry ended at the outbreak of the
Revolutionary War, at which time he retired to his home in PG County.
Father Claggett was apparently a man of means; his estate was named “Croom”,
a title passed down to the town located there today. While living at
Croom, Claggett served as rector of St. Thomas Church.
For six more years, beginning in 1786, Claggett
returned to his ministry at All Saints. Then, in 1792, when he was in
his late 40s, he was consecrated Bishop of Maryland at Trinity Church,
New York City.He is distinguished as the first Episcopal bishop ordained
on American soil.
In 1800, during the administration of John Adams,
Bishop Claggett was appointed Chaplain of the United States Senate – its
first session in Washington, D.C. In 1810 he founded Trinity Episcopal
Church in Upper Marlboro.
Thomas John Claggett died in 1816, two years after
Britain attempted to burn Baltimore, and was buried in Croom. In 1898
(when our own church was just seven years old) his remains were
re-interred at the National Cathedral. Highly regarded, he was
memorialized in Canterbury Cathedral where his cenotaph may still be
Locally, the legacy of Thomas John Claggett lives
on in the Bishop Claggett Center, established in 1952 in Western
Maryland. The property, dating from 1791, was originally the Buckingham
Farmhouse. From the late 1800s until 1944 it served as the Buckingham
Industrial School for orphaned boys. Today, Bishop Claggett Center hosts
numerous retreats, conferences and youth activities – a fitting tribute
to a remarkable clergyman.
--Neal Haynie, Parish Archivist
When the appeal went out in 1889 for the raising of
funds for a new and larger church for the Reisterstown parish, little
did the Vestry expect that its prayers would be answered, in full, by a
single member of the congregation. William Keyser, whose summer estate
was in Reisterstown, offered to pay for the building and land as a
memorial to his mother. Only a man of considerable means such as Mr.
Keyser could underwrite a project of this scope. So where did he acquire
William Keyser, who was 54 at the time
of his proposal, was recognized in Baltimore as a well-to-do and
influential businessman, as well as an active member of Episcopal
affairs. Having worked as an iron and steel dealer, his career expanded
very naturally into the growing copper industry. By 1870 he had become
president of the already established Baltimore Copper Company, John
Garrett and Johns Hopkins being the sole owners. Over time, the business
was renamed the Baltimore Copper Smelting and Rolling Company and
occupied considerable acreage in Baltimore's Canton district.
The capacity of the copper works doubled in 1892 with
the formation of the Baltimore Electric Refining Company whose function
was to purify the copper by electrolysis. In total, the copper company
consisted of the smelting works (over 27 furnaces), the blue vitriol
works, the copper rolling mills, the electrolytic department, and the
Before the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904, Mr. Keyser's
office was located at Calvert and German (Redwood) Streets. When he died
suddenly that same year, his son relocated the firm to a building which
still bears the family name on East Redwood Street.
Nineteenth century Baltimore had close ties with South America; this was
due, in large part, to the importing of ore from that area. But by
Keyser's time, Montana and other western states were supplying the
industry's hungry appetite. In 1891 (the same date as the building of
All Saints'), 32 million pounds of refined copper was produced. The
product was officially known as "Baltimore Brand."
William Keyser's activities, as well as his beneficence, extended not
only to All Saints' Church, but to many other groups and organizations.
His name is readily associated with Hannah More Academy, McDonogh
School, the B&O Railroad, Western Maryland Railroad, Johns Hopkins
University, the Reform League, the Enoch Pratt Library, the Maryland
Institute, National Union Bank of Maryland, and more. He was a man both
lucky and successful in what he did. And happily for Reisterstown
Parish, he gave of his fortune for the growth of All Saints' Church.
--Neal Haynie, Parish Archivist
Information for this article was obtained, in part, from
John W. McGrain's book From Pig Iron to Cotton Duck, a Baltimore
County Heritage Publication, 1985.
Baltimore has long been known as a big city that behaves like a small
town. There’s a theory that if you talk with anyone here for twenty
minutes, you’ll discover a mutual acquaintance – or even
a relative. And if you look hard enough, you might even find some
Recently, in researching the genealogy of our founder William Keyser,
I discovered more than the usual portion of famous relatives.
The earliest known ancestor of Mr. Keyser was a Bavarian by the name
of Leonhard Keyser. A Roman Catholic mass priest, he separated from the
Church and became part of the Anabaptist movement. In 1527, for whatever
reason, he suffered martyrdom by fire!
On William Keyser’s mother’s side - to whom All Saints’ is dedicated
- we can trace Samuel Wyman, an owner of Homewood House, erected by the
Carroll family. (The mansion still stands on the Johns Hopkins
"Mollie" Brent Keyser, who, with her husband William, moved to
Reisterstown in the 1880s, traced her ancestry to the founding of
Maryland – back to George Calvert, first Lord Baltimore. Her Brent
ancestors were among the earliest settlers of Virginia and Maryland.
And, to top it off, Mollie’s great-great grandfather was Jonathan Hager,
founder of Hagerstown.
At least two American statesmen married into the Keyser family. Ellen
McHenry Keyser (William’s granddaughter) married James Bruce, Ambassador
to Argentina Her brother-in-law David K. E. Bruce served as Ambassador
to England, France, and Germany. The Bruces were sons of William Cabell
Bruce, U.S. Senator during the Harding administration. And just to
sweeten the story - Senator Bruce’s grandfather’s second wife had been
married previously to
the son of Patrick Henry. (Now that’s a stretch!)
Here are some relatives you will readily recognize: William Keyser’s
son Brent married Ellen Carr McHenry. (See where we’re going?) She was
the daughter of James Howard McHenry, who built an estate named Sudbrook
in what is today Pikesville. His grandfathers were (1) Col. John Eager
Howard, of Revolutionary War fame, and (2) Dr. James McHenry, George
Washington’s secretary of war, for whom Fort McHenry is named. Finally,
James McHenry’s aunt, Elizabeth Key, was the daughter of Francis Scott
Had enough name dropping? It all goes to show that if you dig deep
enough, there could be some famous ghosts in your closet. They’re
certainly in the All Saints’ closet!