About James O'Donoghue

I'm a graduate student in 19th Century American literature.

Limerick Roughs: the Political Killing of young John Hubbel

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John Philip Hubbel, son of a German snuff maker and roughly nineteen years old, was shot and killed at a half-past ten o’clock the night of 12 October 1859 in front of Jackson Hall. “The ball entered near the right ear and came out on the left side of the head.” (DE, 14 October) He died only “one hundred and fifty feet from his father’s house” on Constitution Street (Sun, 14 October). Living in Limerick (8th Ward Baltimore), Hubbel made the brash decision to vote the Know-Nothing Ticket in the stronghold of the Democratic Party.

  • Frank Shaw [Francis Sholl], a youth, living on Somerset street, between Chase and Eager streets, met the deceased on Wednesday at the Central police station, and proposed to go to the 11th ward polls; deceased said he was afraid to go there; witness left him and went there, but had not been there long when [Hubbel] came up; heard him say that he had voted in the 11th ward, also saw him at the 10th ward polls; did not know whether he voted there (Sun, 14 October); leaving the latter place after 5 o’clock, deceased going off by himself; heard that he had voted the Know-Nothing ticket; deceased had said that he was almost afraid to go in his own neighborhood, as there were some who had a grudge against him.” (BAnC, 14 October)

  • Miss Chrysenthia Constance of No. 7 McElderry; around 3 pm, a slightly intoxicated Hubbel: “first stopped at the house next door, and called to witness at an upper window in the rear, and told her that he had voted the American ticket;… and like to have been killed, that a young man named Philip Davis offered him a reform ticket at the 8th ward polls, which he refused to take, and then Davis told him that he would kill him on the first opportunity (Sun, 14 October); had not intended to have got tight, but meeting some of his companions they had induced him to drink. [H]e took supper at witness’s house (BAnC, 14 October); witness induced him to remain at the house until 8 o’clock [Sun gives the time as half-past ten]; he told witness that he was afraid to go home (DE, 14 October); witness asked deceased to stay all night, but he said he could not (Sun, 14 October); he had not been [home] since morning, and his mother would be in misery” (BAnC, 14 October); before going he remarked that the man Davis was watching for him, and he expected to be killed” (Sun, 14 October)

  • “Mrs. Catherine Miskelly, …Lives at 55 Front street; heard hallooing, and on looking out of the window saw deceased running; also saw the flash of a pistol and deceased fell; at the time there were four men standing on the corner of Centre and Front streets (DE, 14 October), under the lamp post from whom the deceased was running; when he was shot; they immediately ran away down Centre and back by High.” (BAnC, 14 October)

  • “Mrs. Mary Cox of 46 French street: “the report [of the gun] did not excite any surprise, as they had been shooting in the street all night.” (Sun, 14 October)

  • “Sarah Ann Cape, resides at the northeast corner of High and French streets… was sitting with her daughter awaiting the return of her son, when she was aroused from sleep by the report of firearms from the direction of Centre street (Sun, 14 October); when she went to the door, saw a party of men coming from the tannery toward High; saw three others pass from Front street down High; witness heard some screaming at the house of Mrs. Rock’s (BAnC, 14 October); She saw the deceased lying on the pavement opposite, when she exclaimed, ‘My God, there lies a man dead!’ When she used the expression a man dressed in light clothing passed her house, stopped, gazed in her face, and although she repeated the exclamation he passed heedlessly on. (DE, 14 October)” Cape owned a grocery and the same corner store was the site of Jourdan’s death two years earlier.

  • “Philip [Daley] visited the house of a Mrs. Slee, on Forrest street, near Eager” (Sun, 14 October); Coroner Sparklin with officer Talbott went to Mrs. Slee’s where they learned he lived in Willow Street. Arriving there, “his mother stated that he was not at home” (DE, 14 October).

The next day on the 13th, at his mother’s house, “Thomas alias Philip [Daley] was arrested between ten and eleven o’clock” (DE, 15 October). Thomas Daley was only eighteen years old and born in Ireland. The police arrested Samuel Donohue, nineteen years old, as a witness and at his bail-hearing Nativist politics surfaced. Samuel’s bondsman was James Donnelly, “‘who said he owned eight houses in the eighth ward.’ Judge Henry Stump responded, ‘In Limerick? (Laughter.)'” I have found nothing indicating this case went to trial. Thomas is listed in his father’s household in the 1860 census. This is the last record I have for him.


  • Other witnesses to Hubbel’s murder included: Mrs. Ellen Houseman [Howser], resides no. 44 Front street; Mary Smith, 12 years old, of the corner of Front and Lefferman’s alley; Miss Elizabeth Jackson, daughter of Mrs. Cape; and Eva Bunce of Lefferman’s alley.
  • Judge Stump was removed from office in 1860 because of routine intoxication on the bench, and the frequent laughter from the gallery was cited as an example of the contempt he held for the court.
  • In 1870, Thomas’s brother Hugh Daley was sentenced to six months in jail with John alias Dixon Woods and Barney Barnes, and levied a fine of $50 and costs each, “for assaulting officer James E. Roberts, on Saturday night, 20th instant, on Monument street” (Sun, 29 August 1870).


Baltimore American and Commercial. 14 October 1859. GoogleNews. 

Baltimore Sun. 14 October 1859; 29 August 1870. Proquest.

The Daily Exchange. (Baltimore, Md.), 14 October 1859, 15 October 1859. Chronicling America.

The Removal of Baltimore City Criminal Court Judge Henry Stump, 1860, Maryland State Archives, Govpub Image No: 821075-0001. MSA SC 5339-41-8.


Genealogy Rabbit Hole – Sparks DNA

I’m interested in contacting Maryland and Virginia Sparks descendants who have gotten DNA tests. My line comes out of Charles County, Maryland in the mid 1600s. This line included Josiah Sparks who moved to upper Baltimore County and Thomas and Matthew Sparks who moved to Pittsylvania, Virginia.

Another, very large, Sparks family came out of Queen Anne’s County, Maryland. The line goes back to William Sparks who died in 1709.

Are these two branches related? No paper trail has connected them. But I’m hoping DNA will connect them.

A DNA match on FamilyTree seems to show that the YDNA Haplogroup for the Charles County Sparks is J-M172. Are there any Queen Anne County Sparks who know their haplogroup? Are there descendants from these two branches who can confirm an Autosomal match?


The Fateful Life of Harry Taylor: Murder on the Sparks Farm

B Co. Seventh Dist. p44-45

Alfred Sparks’s farm lies on the road which follows the ridge from Hereford. Here you can see it is to the West of Hereford close by the Schoolhouse where Alfred taught. Atlas of Baltimore County, Maryland. Seventh  District, G. M. Hopkins, Philadelphia, p44-45, 1877.

There were warnings. They knew the illegitimate child had slaughtered two dogs, perhaps when his employer had angered him, as would be the case in the 1898 murder. They knew he killed some calves of Micheal Armacost because they would not go into the stable. He had been hired after he had left the House of Refuge. The African-American community knew there was something in Harry Taylor and it was best to avoid him. Sarah Lee had lunch with Taylor and Morris two days before. And even then she could tell Taylor held alot of rage within. The lunch was completely silent.

At around seven in the morning on the 16th of June 1898, the men headed into the thick woods to fell and load timber to make ties for the nearby railroad. Despite the hour, Taylor cracked jokes and appeared ready for the long day. They were going to load the wagon and drive it North to a sawmill in Parkton from the farm of Alfred Sparks on Mt. Carmel Road near Evna Road. Lemuel Morris hired Harry or Henry Taylor, 22; George Wills, 19; and John Talbott, 14. And in the early morning light a load of logs waited for them. George and John hopped into the wagon and began grabbing logs from Lemuel and Harry.

The murder

Exact details differ of the murder. A log slipped and fell to the ground. The young boys called, “Look Out!” And Taylor took offense, yelling up at them. Morris tried to placate Taylor and ended up heightening the tension. Morris turned his back to continue with the job, when Taylor, in a fit of uncontrolled rage, grabbed an ax and cracked Morris’s skull with two blows, felling the older man.

OR “Taylor said to Morris, “You’re a fool,” and Morris replied that if he were not still, he would strike him a blow, and when Morris had bowed down to the log, Taylor had hit him with the ax.” (Der Deutsche Correspondent. [Baltimore, Md.], 26 Oct. 1898.)

OR “Mr. Morris remonstrated with Taylor for allowing the end of a log to fly up. Taylor made a surly reply, Mr. Morris then said in a jocular manner. / ‘Don’t fly off the handle so quick or I’ll take my fists to you.’ …he killed Mr. Morris in self-defense. He said that they quarreled and both grabbed for the ax, which lay between them.” (Baltimore American. 17 June 1898.)

OR “Morris, he held his fist under [Taylor’s] nose and seemed to have the intention of attacking him.” (Der Deutsche correspondent. [Baltimore, Md.], 18 June 1898.)

In any case after Morris fell, Talbott and Wills moved toward Taylor and may have struggled with him:

“…the two boys made a start to interfere, Taylor turned savagely on them and they ran. He then threw the axe at them, but failed to strike them. He then picked up the axe, and, saying “Well, I’ll finish this one any way,” returned to where Morris almost lifeless body was lying and dealt the prostrated man three more terrific blows with the back of the axe, crushing in the skull.” (The Democratic Advocate. [Westminster, Md.], 18 June 1898.)

“Talbott and Mill then grappled with the young murderer, who fought like a madman and succeeded in breaking away from them.” (Baltimore American. 17 June 1898.)

The boys ran to alert as many people as possible in Parkton, including Lemuel’s father Nicholas and the local doctor, Dr. A. R. Mitchell. The doctor later testified Morris lived some 15-20 minutes after he arrived. The doomed man lay unconscious and breathed out whatever he had left in him. One account reports that blood and brains stained the forest floor. A grand jury quickly held conference over the body and charged Taylor with the murder. After the inquest, Morris’s mother and brother arrived to kneel over him and plead for him to speak.

Taylor fled toward the nearby Pennsylvania border. He lived with his mother in Rayville not far from the border. Once the community found out about the murder they began hunting Taylor along the roads. Feelmeyer and Whittle arrived at the scene and set out in pursuit. Lemuel Carr saw Taylor on foot and, ignorant of the murder, gave him a ride in his wagon, which is where Constable Grant Hare, riding, overcame Taylor and pointed his pistol at the murderer. Taylor offered no further resistance but instead later pleaded for Hare to kill him instead of turning him over to the lynch mob. “Constable Hare says that when he arrived at Parkton with his prisoner he was surrounded by an angry crowd of men, who expressed bitter feeling against Taylor, and he therefore boarded the first train for Baltimore.” (Baltimore American. 17 June 1898.)

The trial

“The trial was before Judges Fowler and Burke. Taylor appeared unconcerned, even careless. He was neatly dressed in a dark coat and rough gray trousers. His brother was in the courtroom. He was represented by Emanuel W. Herman, with whom was associated Frank I. Duncan. State’s Attorney John S. Ensor, in his opening statement to the court, gave an outline of the crime. Mr. Duncan, for the defense, filed a plea of insanity, and on that theory the defense relied almost absolutely. […]

Taylor was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to the penitentiary for 18 years.” (The Democratic advocate. [Westminster, Md.], 05 Nov. 1898.)

The life before and after

Born around August 1875, Henry’s father abandoned the family or the mother never knew the father. Illegitimacy tainted the young boy. To the farming community he was “weak and wayward temperament, morose and eccentric, without any softening influence of home life, he grew up moody, morbid, with an almost total lack of moral sensibility” (The Democratic Advocate. [Westminster, Md.], 05 Nov. 1898).  He moved in and out of charity houses. In 1880 Henry lives with the elderly Robert Eareckson and his wife Julia with the United Brethren preacher, J. T. Knapp. Able to read and write, perhaps the preacher taught him some. At his trial the Baltimore American describes him thus: “both in manner and appearance is a typical farm hand. When taken to jail he wore a large hickory hat, blue-checkered shirt, overalls, and clod-hopper’ shoes. He was very nervous and appeared to realize his position.”(Baltimore American. 17 June 1898.)

From the Penitentiary in Baltimore City, where he resided in 1900, he was moved to the State Hospital for the Insane. Despite the 18 year sentence, Taylor went on to live the rest of his life institutionalized. As late as 1940, Taylor resided at the Spring Grove State Hospital in Catonsville, Maryland.


Lemuel left four children to be cared for by his father and mother-in-law. “One year ago his wife died [from an operation] and shortly afterwards his home was swept away by fire. One month ago his youngest child died. He was well-known and very popular among his neighbors.” (Baltimore American. 17 June 1898.)



Baltimore American. 17 June 1898.

The Democratic Advocate. (Westminster, Md.), 18 June 1898. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85038292/1898-06-18/ed-1/seq-3/>

The Democratic Advocate. (Westminster, Md.), 05 Nov. 1898. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85038292/1898-11-05/ed-1/seq-2/>

Der Deutsche Correspondent. (Baltimore, Md.), 17 June 1898. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045081/1898-06-17/ed-1/seq-6/> translation by Google Translate.

Der Deutsche Correspondent. (Baltimore, Md.), 18 June 1898. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045081/1898-06-18/ed-1/seq-6/> translation by Google Translate.

Der Deutsche Correspondent. (Baltimore, Md.), 26 Oct. 1898. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045081/1898-10-26/ed-1/seq-7/> translation by Google Translate.

Slaves of My Lady’s Manor: The Curtis Family


William Curtis was a profitable farmer of My Lady’s Manor.  His family intermarried and supported the Sparks family in their mutual endeavors.

  • In his household of 1830, six slaves were enumerated:
    • 1 Male under 10 years of age
    • 1 Male 10-23 years of age
    • 1 Male 24-35 years of age
    • 2 Females under 10 years of age
    • 1 Female 10-23 years of age
  • In 1840, four slave were enumerated
    • 1 Male under 10 years of age
    • 1 Male 10-23 years of age
    • 1 Female 24-35 years of age
    • 1 Female 36-54 years of age
  • In 1850, eight slaves were enumerated
    • Female–(1810)
    • Male–(1817)
    • Male–(1825)
    • Female–(1830)
    • Male–(1843)
    • Female–(1846)
    • Male–(1848)
    • Female–(1850)–Four months old. Likely to be the child of one of the older female slaves.
  • In 1860, nine slaves were enumerated
    • Female–(1812)
    • Male–(1825)
    • Male–(1842)
    • Female–(1845)
    • Male–(1850)
    • Female–(1851)
    • Male–(1851)
    • Male–(1853)
    • Female–(1853)

The woman born in 1812 may have been the mother of the children: at least of the female born in 1850 or 51. The other potential mother born in 1830 is not enumerated in 1860 while the child remains part of the household. The household seems to have preserved some coherency, with only the male born in 1817 and the female born in 1830 not showing in the household. William Curtis died in 1863; his will shows that even at that late date William refused to emancipate his slaves. There are only two names given:

  • Ellen was given to William’s son John S Curtis
    • In 1870 an Ellen Johnson (1848) is enumerated in the household of Archebald Smith (1825), and his wife is Harriet Smith (1827).  It is possible, although very speculative, that Ellen married into Joshua Johnson’s family.  Ellen has two children: John H (1867) and Mary E (1869).  They are in close proximity to John S. Curtis.  While a young woman named Cynthia Young (1856) works in the Curtis household
  • Lewis was given to his daughter Rachel Sparks. The will reads: “…a negro boy named Lewis to dispose of as she may see proper”.

    • Hazel Sparks a great-granddaughter of Rachel Sparks[wife to Daniel] would remark that her grandparents [William Curtis Sparks and Susanna Hoover] had slaves.  They may have owned slaves prior to the will’s 1863 execution, but they are not listed in the 1850 Slave Schedule.

William’s sons: Levi, Eli, William divided the remaining “servants” equally. What I assume to have been a family was divided in a familiar and painful scene even as emancipation neared. They were however not sold it seems.  Dr. Loren Schweninger compiled petitions regarding slaves.  Included in the compilations is this “Petition of John S. Curtis and William Curtis … 25 August 1863 Estate executor seeks to sell property “negroes excepted” (Baltimore County Register of Wills MSA SC 4239-18-85)

Slaves of My Lady’s Manor: Other families of the 2nd District



  • Maria Simms ran away from Ira Anderson but was apprehended on 20 April 1834.


  • A Joshua Thompson (1849) is enumerated in 1870 in the household of Nicholas Hutchins. In 1850 there is a Male (1849) in the household of Nicholas Hutchins


  • Ann Ford (1830), Maria Ford (1856), George Shaw (1856), Charity Shaw (1860) are enumerated in the household of John Perdue
    • In 1850 John Perdue is enumerated with two slaves: Female (1830) and Female (1843).
    • In 1860 John Perdue had the following slaves: Female (1830), Female (1840), Male (1835), Male (1857), Female (1858), Female (1860). It is possible that the Female born in 1860 and the Male born in 1857 are Charity and George Shaw. The Female born in 1830 seems to be Ann Ford. Maria Ford (1856) might be the Female born in (1858). The Female (1840) and the Male (1835) are speculatively the parents of the Shaw siblings.
    • On March 19 1851 Henry Waters, a runaway from a master John Perdue was received in the Baltimore City Jail.
    • On September 20th 1849 Charles and Angeline,are listed in the Accomodations Docket. Angeline is maybe Ann Ford.


  • A Ellison L. Swan (1856) and a Ann E Swan (1858) are enumerated in 1870 in the household of Mary Slade. Also present are Jesse Cox (1813), and a Willie S. Swan (1859).
    • In 1860 Mary Slade is enumerated with the following slaves: Male (1856), Female (1858).
  • A Deliah Swan (1838), Elias Swan (1854), Estrum Swan (1855), Fannie Swan (1861), George Swan (1864) are enumerated in 1870 in the household of Levi Slade.
    • Levi Slade in 1850 is enumerated with the following slaves: Male (1831), Female (1840), and a six-month old Female (1850)
    • Levi Slade in 1860 is enumerated with the following slaves: Male (1831), Female (1838), Female (1850), Male (1853), Male (1855), Male (1859), and a Female (1859). I’m presuming that Levi Slade owned the Swan family. Deliah’s husband died before 1870.
  • In a will probated on 22 November 1838, Thomas Slade wills Sarah to his daughter Susanna, and to his son Thomas and grandson Asbury: “one negroe boy called Granvil, one negroe girl called Maria, and one negroe woman called Betsey with the increase if any, to be equally divided when my said grandson Asbury arrives at the age of twenty-one years, the said slaves to remain and labour on said farm.”


From Schweninger’s compilation: “Thomas Pearce vs. Caroline Swan petition May 1864; answer 7 June 1864 Petitioner claims estate of Negro Charles Swan who died and left his estate to petitioner’s slave” (BALTIMORE COUNTY REGISTER OF WILLS MSA SC 4239-18-90).


  • In 1850 listed in the Accommodations Docket are five slaves owned by John B. Pearce: Joshua Hunter, Edward Griffith, and Jane Griffith with her two children. Pearce was a very prominent man who’s manor “Clynmalira” borders “My Lady’s Manor.”


    • John B Pearce is enumerated in 1850 with eight slaves: Female (1804), Male (1806), Female (1810), Female (1830), Male (1834), Male (1835), and a Male (1844)
    • In 1860 John B possesses seven slaves: Female (1815), Female (1828), Female (1834), Male (1835), Male (1841), Male (1854), Female (1856)
    • In a document about the historical home of Pearce the following appears: “Pearce was not a sessionist but had been a slaveholder. The family papers show his purchase of two slaves: Esther, age 12, in 1832, and Edward in 1848. A draft for a run-away advertisement was signed by both John B. and William Pearce, offering a reward for nine escapees plus some infant children. Wesley, age 13, was described as ‘very intelligent'” (Oakland Farm House 7).


  • Alexander Nesbit is enumerated in 1850 with eleven slaves. In the population census his occupation is judge of the Baltimore City Court.
    • A Peter Williams is recorded in the Slave Jail Records as a runaway from owner Alexander Nesbit: admitted on the 14 April 1837


  • George Harris (1810) ran away with his newly-wed wife Miranda Wallace. Joshua Hutchins posted an advertisement for the runaways on 13 June 1840.
  • Andrew(1833-35) ran away from Joshua Hutchins on 2 June 1855.

Limerick Roughs: John McDevitt, Vagabond of 8th Ward

In 1855, a simple gardener in Baltimore found it necessary to take space in the Baltimore Sun advertising his innocence of what the neighborhood gossips were spreading:

“TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN.—Mr. & Mrs. McDevitt, arrested July 20th, for assaulting and beating each other, is not John McDevitt, Gardener of Old Town.  It is hoped that this notice will satisfy a certain portion of the community who have spoken in an insulting way of said arrest.” (Baltimore Sun, 30 July 1855, p. 2)

In 1850, the gardener John McDevitt’s family resides in the 6th Ward, another resides in 8th Ward: an extended family with three John McDevitts (born 1842, 1833, and 1820) in a motley household of family and boarders. It is difficult to tell which John or if several John McDevitts committed the crimes listed here, but he came from the 8th Ward and I think it likely that it was John McDevitt born 1842 because of the 1870 census showing him in the penitentiary. [Of curious note the Gardener John McDevitt mentioned above had a son, James Aloysius McDevitt, who would achieve considerable renown as a Washington D. C. detective; including, being the first detective called to investigate Lincoln’s assassination.]

John McDevitt intimidated police and committed arson (common crimes committed by the rival Know-Nothings and other gangs); he also drunkenly stumbled into a variety of beatings and thefts making his  relationship to the political gang of the 8th Ward, the “Limericks,” difficult to fully establish. The strongest evidence for partisanship during the Natives’ violence is his arrest for the attempt to kill officer William Kid during the 1857 Election Riot.

Election Riot

On the same day that Jackson Hall faced Police and the Natives, a few blocks down, near the 8th Ward Polls, an officer was viciously attacked:

“In the eighth ward all was very quiet during the forenoon and up to half-past four in the afternoon. At that time police officer Wm. Kidd was passing the polls and when he reached the corner of Eager street turned and again started down Ensor street.  A young man of his acquaintance was sitting on the cellar door near the window where the judges received the votes. To him Mr. Kidd spoke and they started down the street together. They had proceeded as far as the corner of Webb street, when there was a cry to rally, and immediately an assault was made on the officer and he was badly beaten on the head and face with revolvers, and one of the skirts of his coat was torn off.  In the melee he was knocked down, and while he was on the ground a young man ran up, placed a revolver to his head and pulled the trigger. The cap snapped, and before he had the opportunity to make a second attempt the weapon was wrested from him by a citizen who was present. Mr. Kidd then got up and ran for the open door of a house in Webb street, but the inmates became alarmed and closed the door against him.  At that moment a pistol was fired at him, which entered his clothing in the back without touching his person.  A second shot was then fired, when Kidd put his hand on his back and staggered forward. He then ran down Ensor street as far as Chew, one of his assailants hanging on to him. There he fell, and was taken up and carried to a house near by, where Dr. Damman attended to his injuries. It was found that the ball had penetrated the spinal region and touched the kidneys. The charge from the first pistol, a large slug, was found on the removal of his clothing. His condition is said to be critical.”  (Baltimore Sun, 15 October 1857, p 1).

A few days later, Kidd would be in an improving condition. Police arrested Edward Keelan and John Millen on the charge of shooting Kidd. Police gathered John McDevitt, along with Patrick Ready and Michael Murphy on the night of 17 October 1857, and charged them with participating. Patrick Ready, already a veteran club rough, had a scar on his face from a bullet wound received in the 1856 riots. (Baltimore Sun, 15 September 1856, p. 1; 16 October 1857, p. 1; 19 October 1857, p. 1)

The Fires

Charge of Arson—Watchmen Eccleston and Hackett arrested on Saturday night last Albert Clark and John McDevitt upon the charge of setting fire to the stable of Mr. Riley, on the Bel-air commons.  The fire was timely discovered by the neighbors and extinguished without causing an alarm.  Justice Mearis committed them to await further examination.” (Baltimore Sun, 21 April 1856, 4).

“John McDevitt, indicted (together with Peddicord, Graham and others,) for arson, in the alleged setting fire to a house of Mary Ann Lankford, on the 1st of May, was put on trial. […]

Officer Hoover, on Saturday night, the first of May, about 8 ½ o’clock, saw Peddicord at the corner of Bond and Eager streets; he was dressed in dark clothes, with his cap down over his eyes, and passed the officer down Bond street.  The officer followed, thinking something was going on.  Heard the alarm of fire and ran down to the corner of Bond and Abbot Streets, and found the fire in a house on Abbot street.  Amelia Miller gave the alarm first to witness.  They broke open the door and put it out; it had been kindled with spirits of turpentine.  When witness went into the house he saw a person he supposed to be John McDevitt getting over the back fence.  About five minutes after the discovery of the fire Peddicord came into the house in his shirt sleeves, and assisted in putting out the fire.  Did not see any one in the house when he got there, and all he saw Peddicord do was to assist in putting out the fire.

Amelia Miller saw John Gordon, John McDevitt, Andrew Peddicord and John Graham in the second yard from the yard of the house fired, about three o’clock in the afternoon–they were standing there talking.  No one lived in the house to which the yard is attached where they were.  The fire was about 8 ½ o’clock– the house was unoccupied.” (Baltimore Sun, 2 June 1858, p. 1).

They were found not guilty.  Peddicord testified they were in the yard, ,”to quietly drink a half-pint of whisky” (Baltimore Sun, 8 June 1858, 1).

Petty Rogue

McDevitt gained enough of a reputation to be charged on that alone: “John McDevitt, charged with being a rogue and vagabond, was released on $700 bail” (Baltimore Sun, 3 October 1856, 1).

“John McDevitt and Joseph Solder were arrested last night by officers Scarff and Griffin, of the night police.  On the charge of robbing Samuel Folts on the 4 ½ street bridge.  They were held to bail to answer for the charge at court.” (Baltimore Sun, 11 November 1858, 4).

After the Natives

After Nativism faded from the political field, the roughs who waged the political riots found less direction in their drunken sprees, and subsequently the motives for their crimes became mundane.

Charged with Larceny.—George Connolly and John McDevitt were arrested on Wednesday night by policemen Thomas E. Roe, White and Bouldin, charged with the larceny of a silver watch, valued at $7, and 35 cents in money, the property of John W. Jackson, colored, corner of Calvert and Monument streets.  Justice Robinson committed them for the action of the grand jury.  John Ragan, charged with being accessory to the robbery, was arrested at the same time, and committed by the same justice.” (Baltimore Sun, 20 March 1868, 1).

“John Regan, John McDevitt and Geo Connelly, indicted for robbing John W. Jackson, colored, of a watch, &c, at the corner of Monument and Calvert streets, at 2 o’clock in the morning.  McDevitt was tried before a jury and found guilty; Connelly was tried before a jury and found guilty; Connelly was tried before the court and case held sub curia and Regan’s case was postponed.” (Baltimore Sun, 24 April 1868, 4.)

If John served jail time it wasn’t long: “John McDevitt, assaulting John W. Kinnear, fined $20 and costs.” (Baltimore Sun, 9 November 1868, 4).

Charged with Assaulting a Policeman.—John McDevitt, charged with snapping a pistol at, with intent to shoot and kill, policeman John R. Merrick, and Samuel Donahue, charged with being accessory to the assault, were arrested on Tuesday evening by policemen McKewen, Raymo, and Staylor, and, after an examination before Justice Hagerty, were committed in default of security to await the action of the grand jury.— The assault, it is alleged, took place on Gay street, near Exeter, between three and four o’clock in the afternoon.  The officer was on his return from the middle district station, and was followed up Gay street by the accused, one of whom (McDevitt) pointed at his head a pistol, the cap of which fortunately snapped, the other having his hand on the shoulder of the officer, who heard the click of the weapon, without being aware at the time of his dangerous situation.— On subsequently receiving information from witnesses of the occurrence, he had the parties arrested.” (Baltimore Sun, 2 December 1869, 1; 21 January 1870, 4).

The following year McDevitt and Donohue were found not guilty.(Baltimore Sun, 21 January 1870, 4).

In 1870 McDevitt sits in the City jail in the 8th Ward and unfortunately decided to assault its officers as well and sentenced to an additional six months (Baltimore Sun, 21 March 1870, 4).

“John McDevitt, Henry Burns and Wm Stack, larceny of brushes, &c $1.83, from J. McMahon, Burns pleaded guilty, one year in the penitentiary, McDevitt three months in jail, and Stack not guilty” (Baltimore Sun, 25 September 1877, 5).

The criminal, John McDevitt disappears from “Page 4” after 1877.


Limerick Roughs: Michael J. Grady, of the 8th Ward Baltimore

The 8th Ward of Baltimore City during the mid 1800s was known as “Limerick” for its concentration of Irish immigrants. Controlled by the Democratic Party, Limerick gang members faced Nativist gangs who controlled the rest of the Wards in bloody street battles.

I have previously detailed the Election Riot of 1857.  In that riot, Michael J. Grady fought as a Democratic Party rough against Nativists. He was tried in killing of Police Officer Jourdan during that riot in 1859.

Little is known of Grady’s early life except he worked as a clerk along the wharves of Baltimore as a young man. Born roughly in 1833 in Maryland, he married a woman named Mary Ellen and worked as a carpenter in the mid-1850s.

By 1857, Grady was a captain in the National Greys, an independent city militia unit. During the trial, Col George P. Kane recommended Grady’s character: “….has known him for 12 or 15 years; he was a clerk in a mercantile house of a friend of his; he was connected with the volunteer corps; is a fine young officer and was always highly spoken of by those who knew him.”

After his acquittal in Jourdan’s death, ironically enough he was made a Lieutenant in the Baltimore Police. Grady served as a lieutenant in the police but resigned on 18 December 1861 (being an ardent Democrat his resignation appears to be preparation for secession.)  –The Daily Exchange. (Baltimore, Md.), 19 Dec. 1860.

As the nation braced for war between the states, the 8th Ward elected Grady delegate to the State convention of 1861: “to consider what position Maryland should take in the present national crisis.” –Baltimore Sun. 6 Feb. 1861 p 1

In the chaos of the first months of civil strife, Grady and twenty others on the 7th of September 1861, took a road South under darkness. Someone betrayed their intentions to join the Confederate Army to the federal police. The police rode hard to capture them “about nine miles from the city.”  With only one pistol between them the group pleaded they were only going a-fishing. A search revealed that if they didn’t have firearms they at least had a Confederate Flag to show their disloyalty. The  were shipped to Fort McHenry prison.- Baltimore Sun. 9 September 1861.

On 12th September a “strong posse” moved the twenty-one souls from a police station to Ft. McHenry where they boarded the steamer “Richard Willing” for Ft. Delaware. Baltimore Sun. 13 September 1861.

The reports give the names of the following secesshes: Thomas Shields, William Kewen, Benjamin F. McAuley, George Thompson, John Wilkins, William Ellis, James Harker, Patrick Croughan, James Campbell, David H. Luchesi, Alexander O’Connor, Frederick Solenbach, Patrick  Conway or Conney, George Appleton, Charles Powers, John Bouldin, George Summers, Thomas Daley, Samuel Davidson, and David Simmons or Summers. Robert J. Ramsey, George Gosnell, and Robert G. Ware.

Considered a political prisoner, Secretary Seward sent an order of release for many held in Ft. Warren in late November 1861 if they took an oath of allegiance. Grady was to be released with John Bouldin, Thomas Shields, George Appleton, David H. Luchesi, George Thompson. Grady refused and remained a prisoner. –Port Tobacco Times, and Charles County Advertiser. (Port Tobacco, Md.), 28 Nov. 1861; Daily Nashville Patriot. (Nashville, Tenn.), 07 Dec. 1861.

Some reports mention Grady’s release shortly after, but the spotty reporting makes it uncertain. However, it appears Grady did not survive the war. In 1864 Mary, his wife, resides on 31 Buren alone, and subsequent directories do not show the return of her husband.